Gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii Bolus ex. Hook f.) is a popular cut flower and flowering potted plant. In August 2011, a new leaf spot disease was observed on double-type Gerbera growing in outdoor ground beds in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China. Approximately 30% of about 20,000 Gerbera plants in the Guangzhou ground beds were affected. Leaf spots were round or irregular with grayish centers surrounded by dark brown borders and ranged from 5 to 15 mm in diameter. Leaves with multiple lesions became blighted. A fungus was isolated from the lesions and single-spore isolates plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) produced gray, floccose colonies, which reached 65 mm on PDA after 7 days at 28°C. Conidiophores were brown or olivaceous, cylindrical, straight and unbranched, two to seven septations, and 25 to 83 × 4 to 7 μm. Conidiogenous cells were olivaceous or brown, cylindrical, and 11 to 21 × 4 to 6 μm. Conidia were borne singly or in chains of two to five, brown, cylindrical, straight to slightly curved, two to eight pseudosepta, and 30 to 90 × 5.5 to 11.5 μm (mean 70.4 × 7.3 μm), with a conspicuous hilum. These characteristics were consistent with the description of Corynespora cassiicola (Berk. & M.A. Curtis.) C.T. Wei (1). The internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of one isolate (GenBank Accession No. JN853778) was amplified using primers ITS4 and ITS5 (3) and sequenced. A BLAST search in GenBank revealed highest similarity (99%) to sequences of C. cassiicola (AY238606.1 and FJ852715.1). Pathogenicity tests were conducted on 10 potted double-type Gerbera plants. Five wounded and five unwounded leaves on each plant were inoculated with 5-mm mycelial plugs from the periphery of 5-day-old cultures of the isolated fungus. The plugs were put on the leaf surface and secured with sterile wet cotton. Sterile PDA plugs were used as the control treatment on different leaves of the same plants that were inoculated. Plants were covered with plastic bags and incubated in a growth chamber with 12 h of light at 28°C. Necrotic lesions appeared on wounded leaves after 2 to 3 days of incubation and on unwounded leaves 5 to 7 days after incubation. Symptoms on wounded and unwounded leaves were similar to those observed in the field, whereas control leaves inoculated with sterile PDA plugs remained symptomless. C. cassiicola was consistently reisolated from these lesions. Although there are approximately 644 reported hosts of C. cassiicola (2), to our knowledge, this is the first report of C. cassiicola leaf spot on G. jamesonii. Because the disease caused damage to the foliage and affected the flowering of the plants, control measures may need to be implemented for the production of Gerbera in cut flower nurseries.
References: (1) M. B. Ellis. CMI Mycol. Pap. 65:15, 1957. (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/, 21 November 2011. (3) T. J. White et al. Page 315 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. M. A. Innis et al., eds. Academic Press, San Diego, 1990.