Sweet persimmon (Diospyros kaki L.), a fruit tree in the Ebenaceae, is cultivated widely in Korea and Japan, the leading producers worldwide (2). Sweet persimmon fruit with flyspeck symptoms were collected from orchards in the Jinju area of Korea in November 2010. The fruit had fungal clusters of black, round to ovoid, sclerotium-like fungal bodies with no visible evidence of a mycelial mat. Orchard inspections revealed that disease incidence ranged from 10 to 20% in the surveyed area (approximately 10 ha) in 2010. Flyspeck symptoms were observed on immature and mature fruit. Sweet persimmon fruit peels with flyspeck symptoms were removed, dried, and individual speck lesions transferred to potato dextrose agar (PDA) and cultured at 22°C in the dark. Fungal isolates were obtained from flyspeck colonies on 10 sweet persimmon fruit harvested from each of three orchards. Fungal isolates that grew from the lesions were identified based on a previous description (1). To confirm identity of the causal fungus, the complete internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA sequence of a representative isolate was amplified and sequenced using primers ITS1 and ITS4 (4). The resulting 552-bp sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. HQ698923). Comparison with ITS rDNA sequences showed 100% similarity with a sequence of Zygophiala wisconsinensis Batzer & Crous (GenBank Accession No. AY598855), which infects apple. To fulfill Koch's postulates, mature, intact sweet persimmon fruit were surface sterilized with 70% ethanol and dried. Three fungal isolates from this study were grown on PDA for 1 month. A colonized agar disc (5 mm in diameter) of each isolate was cut from the advancing margin of a colony with a sterilized cork borer, transferred to a 1.5-ml Eppendorf tube, and ground into a suspension of mycelial fragments and conidia in a blender with 1 ml of sterile, distilled water. The inoculum of each isolate was applied by swabbing a sweet persimmon fruit with the suspension. Three sweet persimmon fruit were inoculated per isolate. Three fruit were inoculated similarly with sterile, distilled water as the control treatment. After 1 month of incubation in a moist chamber at 22°C, the same fungal fruiting symptoms were reproduced as observed in the orchards, and the fungus was reisolated from these symptoms, but not from the control fruit, which were asymptomatic. On the basis of morphological characteristics of the fungal colonies, ITS sequence, and pathogenicity to persimmon fruit, the fungus was identified as Z. wisconsinensis (1). Flyspeck is readily isolated from sweet persimmon fruit in Korea and other sweet persimmon growing regions (3). The exposure of fruit to unusual weather conditions in Korea in recent years, including drought, and low-temperature and low-light situations in late spring, which are favorable for flyspeck, might be associated with an increase in occurrence of flyspeck on sweet persimmon fruit in Korea. To our knowledge, this is the first report of Z. wisconsinensis causing flyspeck on sweet persimmon in Korea.
References: (1) J. C. Batzer et al. Mycologia 100:246, 2008. (2) FAOSTAT Database. Retrieved from http://faostat.fao.org/, 2008. (3) H. Nasu and H. Kunoh. Plant Dis. 71:361, 1987. (4) T. J. White et al. Page 315 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. M. A. Innis et al., eds. Academic Press, Inc., New York, 1990.