A cane disease of blackberry (Rubus sp.) cv. Thornfree was observed in May and June 2010 in two growing regions in the eastern part of Slavonia in Croatia. Symptoms consisted of bleached areas between and around cane nodes with some canes showing wilt symptoms. Infected areas were covered with numerous, black pycnidia immersed in the epidermal tissue. Disease occurrence in orchards growing cv. Thornfree ranged between 1 and 15%. Thirty disease samples were collected, disinfected (1 min in 70% ethanol and 2 min in 1% NaOCl), and placed in a moist chamber for 4 days. Fungal sporulating structures were then picked off and placed on potato dextrose agar (PDA). Fungal isolates obtained were identified as a Phomopsis sp., the conidial state of Diaporthe (3), on the basis of cultural and morphological characteristics. Alpha conidia were unicellular, hyaline, fusiform, sometimes tapering toward one or both ends, biguttulate (sometimes with several guttules), and 5.2 to 9.7 × 1.4 to 2.7 μm (average 6.5 × 2.1 μm). Beta conidia were hyaline, aseptate, filiform, hamate, and 16.6 to 28.2 × 0.5 to 1.5 μm (average 24.0 × 1.1 μm). The teleomorph was not observed. Biomolecular analysis was performed to identify the fungal species by sequencing the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region spanning ITS 1, 5.8S rDNA, and ITS 2 of two isolates (Phk1 and Phk2). The amplified product was sequenced (GenLab-Enea, Rome, Italy) and a BLAST search of the NCBI nucleotide database was performed. Sequences from Phk1 and Phk2 (GenBank Accession Nos. HQ533144 and HQ533143, respectively) were identical to authentic and vouchered Diaporthe eres Nitschke (GenBank DQ491514, BPI 748435, and CBS 109767) ITS sequences in GenBank. Fungal isolates for pathogenicity tests were grown on PDA at 25°C for 7 days (12 h light/dark regimen). Inoculations were made on 30 to 40 cm long green shoots of potted plants of the blackberry cv. Thornfree. One-centimeter long wounds were made with a sterile scalpel and mycelia of D. eres were placed in the wounds. Inoculation sites were covered with a piece of wet cotton wool and aluminum foil to retain moisture. Three replications of 10 plants each were inoculated and these plus 10 control plants (inoculated with plugs of PDA only) were maintained in a growth chamber at 25°C. After 25 days, lesions developed on all 30 inoculated plants that averaged 15 mm long and control plants remained symptomless. D. eres was reisolated from inoculated plants, thus completing Koch's postulates. Phomopsis spp. have previously been reported on blackberry canes in Serbia (1) and Yugoslavia (2,4), however, to our knowledge, this is the first report of the occurrence of D. eres (anamorph P. oblonga) on blackberry in Croatia.
References: (1) M. Arsenijevic. Biljni Lekar 34:117, 2006. (2) M. Muntanola-Cvetkovic et al. Zast. Bilja 36:325, 1985. (3) B. C. Sutton. Page 569 in: The Coelomycetes. CMI, Kew, Surrey, UK, 1980. (4) M. Veselic et al. Zast. Bilja 49:76, 1998.