Aralia elata (Miq.) Seem., known as Japanese angelica tree, is a deciduous shrub belonging to the Araliaceae, which is native to East Asia. The young shoots have long been used in various dishes in East Asia. Commercial cultivation of this shrub, especially in polytunnels, is expanding in Korea. Several diseases including Sclerotinia rot have been known to be present on this plant (1,2). In early September 2007, leaf spot symptoms were first observed on several trees in Hongcheon, Korea. Microscopic observations revealed that the leaf spots were associated with an Ascochyta sp. Further surveys of the Ascochyta leaf spot showed the occurrence of the disease in approximately 5 to 10% of the trees in the 3 ha of commercial fields surveyed in Chuncheon, Gapyeong, Inje, and Jinju, Korea. Initial symptoms on leaves were circular to irregular, brown to dark brown, becoming zonate, and finally fading to grayish brown in the center with a yellow halo. Representative samples were deposited in the herbarium of Korea University. Conidiomata on leaf lesions were pycnidial, amphigenous, but mostly epiphyllous, immersed or semi-immersed in host tissue, light brown to olive brown, and 60 to 200 μm in diameter. Ostioles were papillate, 20 to 35 μm wide, and surrounded by a ring of darker cells. Conidia were hyaline, smooth, cylindrical to clavate, straight to mildly curved, slightly constricted at the septa, medianly one-septate, sometimes aseptate, 8 to 16 × 2.5 to 3.5 μm, and contained small oil drops. These morphological characteristics were consistent with the previous reports of Ascochyta marginata J.J. Davis (3,4). A monoconidial isolate was cultured on potato dextrose agar (PDA) plates and accessioned in the Korea Agricultural Culture Collection (Accession KACC43082). The conidia were readily formed on PDA. Inoculum for the pathogenicity tests was prepared by harvesting conidia from 30-day-old cultures of KACC43082 and a conidial suspension (approximately 2 × 106 conidia/ml) was sprayed onto leaves of three healthy seedlings. Three noninoculated seedlings served as controls. Inoculated and noninoculated plants were covered with plastic bags for 48 h in a glasshouse. After 7 days, typical leaf spot symptoms started to develop on the leaves of the inoculated plants. The fungus, A. marginata, was reisolated from those lesions, confirming Koch's postulates. No symptoms were observed on control plants. Previously, the disease was reported in Japan (4) and China (3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of A. marginata on Japanese angelica trees in Korea. According to our field observations in Korea, the Ascochyta leaf spot mostly occurred on plants growing in a humid environment, especially during the rainy season. The seedlings as well as the trees growing in sunny, well-ventilated plots were nearly free from this disease. Therefore, the growing conditions seemed to be the most important factor for the development and severity of the disease.
References: (1) C. K. Lee et al. Plant Pathol. J. 26:426, 2010. (2) S. H. Lee et al. Diseases of Japanese Angelica Tree and Their Control. Research Report 08-10. Korea Forest Research Institute. Seoul, Korea, 2008. (3) J. Sun et al. Acta Mycol. Sin. 14:107, 1995. (4) M. Yoshikawa and T. Yokoyama. Mycoscience 36:67, 1995.