Eutypella is one of the few genera in the Diatrypaceae considered plant pathogens (1). In California, E. vitis and other members of the Diatrypaceae cause branch and trunk canker on grapevine (3,4). Eutypella spp. have not previously been documented as pathogens of citrus. In a 2010 survey on citrus branch canker and dieback in six citrus-growing counties of California, four isolates of Eutypella species were detected in Riverside and San Diego counties. Canker symptoms included dieback and bark cracking, and cuts made through symptomatic trees showed that the cankers were expanding through the center of the tree. Branch samples were collected from 10 trees per orchard and 5 to 10 orchards per county (102 trees for two counties). Pieces of symptomatic tissue (1 to 2 mm2) were plated onto potato dextrose agar amended with 0.01% tetracycline (PDA-tet) and incubated at 25°C for 4 days. All isolates were identified by morphological and molecular characteristics. PCR of isolates was performed in a thermal cycler using two primer pairs, ITS4/5 and Bt2a/2b for amplifying the internal transcribed spacer (ITS1), 5.8S, and ITS2 region and the β-tubulin gene, respectively (2,3). PCR products were sequenced at the University of California, Riverside Genomics Core and the sequences compared in a BLAST search. Four isolates identified as Eutypella spp. included two (UCR1088 and UCR1101) from San Diego County and two (UCR1148 and UCR1149) from the Riverside County samples. The sequences were deposited in GenBank (HQ880579, JF758610, HQ880581, and HQ880582 and HQ880583, JF758611, HQ880585, and HQ880586 for the ITS regions and β-tubulin gene, respectively. ITS sequences for UCR1088 and UCR1101 had 98 and 100% match, respectively, to Eutypella spp. ITS sequences in GenBank (GQ293959 to GQ293961), while UCR1148 and UCR1149 matched 99% (GQ293956 to GQ293958). On the basis of morphological characteristics, UCR1088 and UCR1101 were similar to Eutypella spp. group 1, while UCR1148 and UCR1149 were similar to Eutypella spp. group 3 (4). Pathogenicity tests were conducted with all four isolates on detached shoots from healthy citrus trees of the same cultivar/rootstock from which each isolate was obtained. One wound per shoot was made on 1-year-old, green, detached shoots using a 3-mm-diameter cork borer and the wounded surfaces were inoculated with 3-mm-diameter mycelial plugs of 5-day-old cultures of each isolate growing on PDA-tet. Inoculated wounds and shoot ends were covered with petroleum jelly and wrapped with Parafilm (3). Control shoots were inoculated with sterile agar plugs. There were 10 inoculated shoots per isolate and noninoculated control treatment. Shoots were incubated at 25°C in moist chambers for 6 weeks. Lesions similar to those on the original infected shoots were observed on all inoculated shoots except the control treatment. Reisolation and identification of fungi from inoculated and control shoots were done using methods described above. Inoculated isolates were recovered from 100% of inoculated shoots but none was recovered from noninoculated shoots, indicating association of Eutypella spp. with citrus branch canker. To our knowledge, this is the first report of Eutypella spp. associated with cankers on citrus in California.
References: (1) B. Piskur et al. Plant Dis. 91:1579, 2007. (2) B. Slippers et al. Mycologia 96:83, 2004. (3) F. P. Trouillas and W. D. Gubler. Plant Dis. 94:867, 2010. (4) F. P. Trouillas et al. Mycologia 102:319, 2010.