J. S. Mayorquin and
A. Eskalen, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, Riverside 92521;
A. J. Downer, University of California Cooperative Extension, Ventura County 669 County Square Drive, No. 100, Ventura 93003;
D. R. Hodel, University of California Cooperative Extension, 4800 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles 90022; and
A. Liu, Angela Liu Consulting Arborist, Mar Vista, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Indian laurel-leaf fig (Ficus microcarpa L.) is a commonly used indoor and outdoor ornamental tree. F. microcarpa is most frequently encountered as lining city streets, especially in warmer southern California climates. A disease known as ‘Sooty Canker,' caused by the fungus Nattrassia mangiferae (Syd. & P. Syd) B. Sutton & Dyko, is particularly devastating on F. microcarpa. Disease symptoms are characterized by branch dieback, crown thinning, and if the disease progresses to the trunk, eventual tree death (2). Recent taxonomic revisions have renamed Nattrassia mangiferae as Neofusicoccum mangiferae (Syd. & P. Syd.) Crous, Slippers & A. J. L. Phillips (1). An initial survey conducted during the spring of 2011 across four cities in Los Angeles County included, Culver City, Lakewood, Santa Monica, and Whittier. Five symptomatic branches per city were collected from trees showing branch cankers and dieback. Pieces of symptomatic tissue (2 mm2) were plated onto one-half-strength potato dextrose agar. Most isolates initially identified by morphological characteristics, such as growth pattern, speed of growth, and colony color, resembled those in the Botryosphaeriaceae (4). Two representative isolates from each site location were sequenced. Sequences obtained from amplification of the internal transcribed spacer region (ITS1-5.8rDNA-ITS2) and the β-tubulin gene were compared in a BLAST search in GenBank. Results identified isolates as Botryosphaeria dothidea (identity of 99% to EF638767 and 100% to JN183856.1 for ITS and β-tubulin, respectively); Neofusicoccum luteum (100% to EU650669 and 100% to HQ392752); N. mediterraneum (100% to HM443605 and 99% to GU251836); and N. parvum (100% to GU188010 and 100% to HQ392766) and have been deposited in GenBank with the following accession numbers: JN543668 to JN543671 (ITS) and JQ080549 to JQ080552 (β-tubulin). Pathogenicity tests were conducted in the greenhouse on 6-month-old F. microcarpa with one isolate from each previously listed fungal species. Five plants per isolate were stem-wound inoculated with mycelial plugs and wrapped with Parafilm. Uncolonized agar plugs were used as a control. Inoculations were later repeated a second time in the same manner for a total of 10 plants per isolate. Plants were observed for 6 weeks and destructively sampled to measure vascular lesion lengths. Mean vascular lesion lengths were 26, 22, 54, and 46 mm for B. dothidea, N. luteum, N. mediterraneum, and N. parvum, respectively. The mean lesion lengths for all isolates were significantly different (P = 0.05) from the control. Each species was consistently recovered from inoculated plants, except the control, thus fulfilling Koch's postulates. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the pathogenicity of multiple Botryosphaeriaceae species causing branch canker and dieback on F. microcarpa in California. These results are significant since trees along sidewalks in southern California are often crowded and undergo extensive root and branch pruning and some Botryosphaeriaceae spp. are known to enter its host through wounds caused by pruning or mechanical injury (2,3). Further sampling is imperative to better assess the distribution of these canker-causing fungal pathogens on F. microcarpa.
References: (1) P. W. Crous et al. Stud. Mycol. 55:235, 2006. (2) D. R. Hodel et al. West. Arborist 35:28, 2009. (3) V. McDonald et al. Plant Dis. 93:967, 2009. (4) B. Slippers et al. Fungal Biol. Rev. 21:90, 2007.