Creeping (June) bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides) is an herbaceous plant belonging to the Campunalaceae family. It has showy flowers, which is very much appreciated for gardens and landscaping. During the summer of 2011, 6- to 9-month-old plants grown in a garden near Biella (northern Italy) showed signs and symptoms of an unknown powdery mildew. The adaxial leaf surfaces were covered with white mycelia and conidia, while the abaxial surfaces were less infected. As the disease progressed, infected leaves turned yellow and wilted. Mycelia were also observed on stems, petioles, and flower calyxes of inflorescences. Seventy percent of plants were diseased. Conidia were hyaline, elliptical to ovoid (sometimes doliform), borne in short chains (up to three conidia per chain), and measured 27 to 42 (34) × 16 to 24 (19) μm. Conidiophores were erect with a cylindrical foot cell measuring 64 to 105 (80) × 11 to 12 (11) μm and followed by two shorter cells measuring 17 to 24 (20) × 11 to 15 (13) μm. Fibrosin bodies were absent. Chasmothecia were not observed in the collected samples. The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA was amplified using the primers ITS1F/ITS4 and sequenced (3) (GenBank Accession No. JN639855). The 405-bp amplicon had 98% homology with the sequence of Golovinomyces orontii GQ183948. Pathogenicity was confirmed through inoculation by gently pressing diseased leaves onto leaves of healthy C. rapunculoides plants. Three plants were inoculated while the same number of noninoculated plants served as a control. Plants were maintained outside at temperatures from 10 to 26°C. Fifteen days after inoculation, symptoms and signs of powdery mildew developed on inoculated plants. The conidial morphology of the powdery mildew fungus that developed on inoculated plants was identical to the conidial morphology observed in the original fungus. Noninoculated plants remained healthy. The pathogenicity test was carried out twice. G. orontiii has been reported on C. rapunculoides in several eastern European countries as well as in Switzerland and Germany (1,2). To our knowledge, this is the first report of the disease in Italy. The economic importance of this disease is currently limited in Italy because of limited planting of this host.
References: (1) A. Bolay. Cryptogam. Helv. 20:1, 2005. (2) U. Braun. The Powdery Mildews (Erysiphales) of Europe. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany, 1995. (3) T. J. White et al. PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. M. A. Innis et al., eds. Academic Press, San Diego, 1990.