David Chaimovitsh, and
Rachel Davidovitch-Rekanati, Division of Aromatic Herbs and Medicinal Plants, Agriculture Research Organization, Newe Ya'ar Research Center, Ramat Yishai 30095, Israel;
Michal Sharon, Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Science, Agriculture Research Organization, Beit-Dagan 50250, Israel; and
Nativ Dudai, Division of Aromatic Herbs and Medicinal Plants, Agriculture Research Organization, Newe Ya'ar Research Center
Mentha longifolia is produced in and exported from Israel with annual revenue of US$16 million. In 2010, a severe epidemic of unknown etiology reduced growers' returns up to 50%. Disease symptoms included water-soaked lesions, necrosis, and web-like mycelia on plants. Two isolates (JV-1 and BS-1) from randomly selected symptomatic plants were identified as members of Rhizoctonia solani anastomosis groups 1-IB and 4HG-I, respectively. The fitness of JV-1 and BS-1 interacted with temperatures between 17 and 35°C: JV-1 grew faster and was more aggressive (P < 0.05) at lower temperatures (<24°C), BS-1 grew faster and was more aggressive at higher temperatures (>30°C), and the two isolates performed similarly at intermediate temperatures. Disease developed fastest at 24 to 28°C. Yield was reduced between 46 and 100%. In all, 77.5% fewer plants recovered from disease developing at 24 to 28°C than at 17 to 23 or 30 to 35°C. The relationship of disease to relative humidity (RH) fit a quadratic model (P < 0.0015, R2 = 0.98). Disease was most severe at 100% RH, decreasing by 1.3-, 1.9-, 3-, 4.5-, and 10.5-fold with the reduction of RH from 100% to 88, 76, 69, 55, or 49%, respectively. This is the first report of Rhizoctonia web blight in mint in Israel.