J. H. Park and
M. J. Park, Division of Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering, Korea University, Seoul 136-701, Korea;
S. H. Lee, Division of Forest Diseases and Insect Pests, Korea Forest Research Institute, Seoul 130-712, Korea; and
H. D. Shin, Division of Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering, Korea University, Seoul 136-701, Korea
Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle, known as tree-of-heaven, is a deciduous tree belonging to the family Simaroubaceae, which is native to both northeast and central China and Taiwan. The trees often have the ability to replace indigenous plants and disrupt native ecosystems (3). In August 2010, a leaf spot disease was observed on young trees in Yangpyeong, Korea. Field observation in 2010 and 2011 showed that infections are common on 1- or 2-year-old trees. Adult trees were rarely infected. Symptoms usually started at the margin of leaves and expanded into irregular, dark brown leaf spots, eventually causing significant premature defoliation. Representative samples were deposited in the herbarium of Korea University (KUS-F25174 and -F25304). Conidiophores of fungi observed microscopically on the leaf spots were erect, brown to dark brown, single or occasionally in clusters, 80 to 550 × 5 to 8 μm, and mostly arose on the abaxial surface of symptomatic leaves. Conidia were borne singly or in short chains of two to four, ranging from cylindrical to broadest at the base and tapering apically, straight to slightly curved, pale olivaceous brown, 3 to 18 pseudoseptate, 70 to 450 × 8 to 22 μm, each with a conspicuous thickened hilum. On potato dextrose agar, single-spore cultures of five isolates were identified as Corynespora cassiicola (Berk. & M.A. Curtis) C.T. Wei on the basis of morphological and cultural characteristics (1,4). A monoconidial isolate was preserved at the Korean Agricultural Culture Collection (Accession No. KACC45510). Genomic DNA was extracted with the DNeasy Plant Mini DNA Extraction Kit (Qiagen Inc., Valencia, CA). The complete internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA was amplified with the primers ITS1/ITS4 and sequenced with an ABI Prism 337 automatic DNA sequencer (Applied Biosystems, Foster, CA). The resulting sequence of 548 bp was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. JN974462). The sequence showed >99% similarity (1-bp substitution) with a sequence of C. cassiicola from Ipomoea batatas (GenBank Accession No. FJ852716). To conduct a pathogenicity test, a conidial suspension (~2 × 104 conidia/ml) was prepared by harvesting conidia from 2-week-old cultures of KACC45510 and the suspension sprayed onto the leaves of three healthy seedlings. Three noninoculated seedlings served as control plants. Inoculated and noninoculated plants were kept in humid chambers for 48 h in a glasshouse. After 5 days, typical leaf spot symptoms started to develop on the leaves of all three inoculated plants. C. cassiicola was reisolated from the lesions, confirming Koch's postulates. No symptoms were observed on control plants. C. cassiicola is cosmopolitan with a very wide host range (2). To our knowledge, C. cassiicola has not been reported on A. altissima anywhere in the world. According to field observations in Korea, Corynespora leaf spot was most severe in August and September, especially following a prolonged period of moist weather. C. cassiicola may be a potential biocontrol agent for this highly invasive tree species.
References: (1) M. B. Ellis. Dematiaceous Hyphomycetes. Commonwealth Mycological Institute: Kew, Surrey, England, 1971. (2) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases. Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, ARS, USDA, Retrieved from http://nt.ars-grin.gov/fungaldatabases/, October 28, 2011. (3) L. B. Knapp and C. D. Canham. J. Torrey Bot. Soc. 127:307, 2000. (4) J. H. Kwon et al. Plant Pathol. J. 17:180, 2001.