X. Liao, Tropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida, IFAS, Homestead 33031 and College of Bio-Safety Science and Technology, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha 410128, China;
Y. Fu and
S. Zhang, Tropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida, IFAS, Homestead 33031; and
Y. P. Duan, U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Fort Pierce, FL 34945
Indian spinach (Basella rubra L.) is a red stem species of Basella that is cultivated worldwide as an ornamental and the aerial parts are also consumed as a vegetable. In May of 2011, symptoms of damping-off were observed on approximately 10% of the plants at the stem base around the soil line of seedlings in a greenhouse in Homestead, FL. Lesions were initially water soaked, grayish to dark brown, irregular in shape, and sunken in appearance on large plants, causing the infected seedlings to collapse and eventually die. Symptomatic stem tissue was surface sterilized with 0.6% sodium hypochlorite, rinsed in sterile distilled water, air dried, and plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA). Plates were incubated at 25°C in darkness for 3 to 5 days. A fungus was isolated in all six isolations from symptomatic tissues on PDA. Fungal colonies on PDA were light gray to brown with abundant growth of mycelia, and the hyphae tended to branch at right angles when examined under a microscope. A septum was always present in the branch of hyphae near the originating point and a slight constriction at the branch was observed. Neither conidia nor conidiophores were found from the cultures on PDA. The characteristics of hyphae, especially the right angle branching of mycelia, indicate close similarity to those of Rhizoctonia solani (2,3). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA was amplified with the primers ITS1/ITS4 and sequenced (GenBank Accession No. JN545836). Subsequent database searches by the BLASTN program indicated that the resulting sequence had a 100% identity over 472 bp with the corresponding gene sequence of R. solani anastomosis group (AG) 4 (GenBank Accession No. JF701752.1), a fungal pathogen reported to cause damping-off on many crops. Pathogenicity was confirmed through inoculation of healthy India spinach plants with the hyphae of isolates. Four 4-week-old plants were inoculated with the isolates by placing a 5-mm PDA plug of mycelia at the stem base and covering with a thin layer of the soil. Another four plants treated with sterile PDA served as a control. After inoculation, the plants were covered with plastic bags for 24 h and maintained in a greenhouse with ambient conditions. Four days after inoculation, water-soaked, brown lesions, identical to the symptoms described above, were observed on the stem base of all inoculated plants, whereas no symptoms developed on the control plants. The fungus was isolated from affected stem samples, and the identity was confirmed by microscopic appearance of the hyphae and sequencing the ITS1/ITS4 intergenic spacer region, fulfilling Koch's postulates. This pathogenicity test was conducted twice. R. solani has been reported to cause damping-off of B. rubra in Ghana (1) and Malaysia (4). To our knowledge, this is the first report of damping-off caused by R. solani AG-4 on Indian spinach in Florida and the United States. With the increased interest in producing Asian vegetables for food and ornamental purposes, the occurrence of damping-off on Indian spinach needs to be taken into account when designing programs for disease management in Florida.
References: (1) H. A. Dade. XXIX. Bull. Misc. Inform. 6:205, 1940. (2) J. R. Parmeter et al. Phytopathology 57:218, 1967. (3) B. Sneh et al. Identification of Rhizoctonia species. The American Phytopathological Society, St Paul, MN, 1991. (4) T. H. Williams and P. S. W. Liu. Phytopathol. Pap. 19:1, 1976.