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First Report of Boxwood Blight Caused by Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum in the United States

July 2012 , Volume 96 , Number  7
Pages  1,070.1 - 1,070.1

K. L. Ivors, L. W. Lacey, and D. C. Milks, Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Mills River 28759; and S. M. Douglas, M. K. Inman, R. E. Marra, and J. A. LaMondia, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven 06504 and Windsor 06095

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Accepted for publication 19 April 2012.

In September and October 2011, a new disease was observed on Buxus spp. in North Carolina and Connecticut, respectively. In North Carolina, over 10,000 containerized Buxus sempervirens (American boxwood) were affected at one location. A few weeks later, the disease was found in Connecticut on entire plantings of B. sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ (English boxwood) at two residential properties, and shortly thereafter on over 150,000 plants at two production nurseries. Initial foliar symptoms appeared as light to dark brown spots, often with dark borders. Spots enlarged and coalesced, often with a concentric pattern, and black streaks or cankers developed on stems. Infected leaves became brown or straw colored and dropped quickly after foliar symptoms were visible. Branch dieback and plant death were also observed in Connecticut. Cultures were isolated from symptomatic leaves and stems and identified as Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum Crous, Groenewald & Hill 2002 (1) (syn. Cylindrocladium buxicola Henricot 2002 [2]) on the basis of morphological characteristics. Macroconidiophores were single or in groups of up to three and comprised a stipe, stipe extension, and a penicillate arrangement of fertile branches. The stipe extension was septate, hyaline (89 to 170 × 2 to 4.5 μm), and terminated in an ellipsoidal vesicle (6 to 11 μm diameter) with a papillate or pointed apex. Conidia were cylindrical, straight, hyaline, and one septate (48 to 62 × 4 to 6 μm), occurring in slimy clusters. No microconidiophores were observed. Chlamydospores were medium to dark brown, thick walled, and smooth to rough. Microsclerotia were observed on PDA (1). A portion of β-tubulin gene sequence from two Connecticut (Genbank Accession Nos. JQ866628 and JQ866629) and two North Carolina isolates showed 100% similarity with only C. pseudonaviculatum strains. USDA-APHIS-PPQ confirmed this new United States record on October 24, 2011. Pathogenicity was confirmed by inoculating three 1-gallon container plants of B. sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ in North Carolina and four liners of B. sinica var. insularis × B. sempervirens ‘Green Velvet’ in Connecticut with a spore suspension of approximately 5.0 × 106 conidia (North Carolina) or 1.0 × 106 conidia (Connecticut) on the foliage of each plant; untreated control plants were sprayed with water. After incubation at ambient temperature, all inoculated plants developed foliar and stem lesions within 3 to 4 days and blighting occurred within 2 weeks; control plants remained asymptomatic. C. pseudonaviculatum was reisolated from inoculated plants. To our knowledge, this is the first report of C. pseudonaviculatum in the United States. C. pseudonaviculatum causes a serious disease of Buxus spp. in the United Kingdom and several other European countries as well as New Zealand (1). Confirmation of boxwood blight in the United States is significant because of the popularity of boxwood as a landscape plant, and because of the potential economic impact this disease may have on commercial growers; boxwood production in the United States has an annual wholesale market value of approximately $103 million (3).

References: (1) P. Crous, et al. Sydowia 54:23, 2002. (2) B. Henricot and A. Culham Mycologia 94: 980, 2002. (3) USDA-NASS, Census of Horticulture, 2010.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society