Chayote (Sechium edule (Jacq.) Swartz, Cucurbitaceae), originally native to Mexico, is an important vegetable known as “dragon-whisker vegetable” and is cultivated for its shoots in Ji-an, Hualien County in eastern Taiwan. In June 2010, 70 to 80% of the chayote plants grown in Ji-an developed necrotic spots on stems, leaves, and fruits. The disease was severe during the warm and rainy season from June to August. The symptoms on stems, leaves, and fruits were water-soaked lesions that eventually dried up, cracked, and produced perithecia on necrotic tissues. A single ascospore was isolated from perithecia harvested from diseased stems and cultured on potato dextrose agar (PDA) at 25°C for 1 month. Colonies of three isolates (SE5, SE6, and SE7) were white to olivaceous green bearing unicellular conidia measuring 2 to 5 × 3 to 10 μm, which is consistent with the morphological characteristics of Didymella bryoniae (Auersw.) Rehm (anamorph Phoma cucurbitacearum (Fr.:Fr.) Sacc.) (1,2,3). DNA of SE5, SE6, and SE7 isolates were obtained using microwave-based method (4). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA (GenBank accessions AB714984, AB714985, and AB714986), PCR-amplified using primers ITS1 and ITS4, had 98 to 99% nucleotide sequence identity with D. bryoniae (GenBank Accession Nos. GU045304 and GU592001). A pathogenicity test was conducted in a greenhouse with temperature ranging from 20 to 30°C. Three-day-old mycelial plugs (5 × 5 mm) of the three isolates were placed on the needle-pricked wounds of stems and leaves of 36 4-month-old potted chayote plants wrapped in plastic bags to maintain 100% relative humidity for 2 days. Six days after inoculation, water-soaked lesions formed on the stems and leaves. Controls inoculated with sterile water had no symptoms. The fungus reisolated from the lesions of diseased stems and leaves had morphological characteristics of D. bryoniae. Based on the results of morphology, molecular data, and pathogenicity tests, we reported for the first time to our knowledge that gummy stem blight of chayote is caused by D. bryoniae in Taiwan.
References: (1) J. W. Huang and W. R. Hsieh. Plant Prot. Bull. 27:325, 1985. (2) A. P. Keinath et al. Phytopathology 85:364, 1995. (3) E. Punithalingam and P. Holliday. P. 332 in: Descriptions of Pathogenic Fungi and Bacteria. CMI, Kew, Surrey, UK, 1972. (4) S. R. Tendulkar et al. Biotechnol. Lett. 22:1941, 2003.