H. M. Young,
M. L. Paret,
D. L. Wright, and
J. J. Marois, North Florida Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Quincy; and
N. S. Dufault, Plant Pathology Department, University of Florida, Gainesville
Brassica carinata A. Braun, commonly referred to as Ethiopian rapeseed, a near relative of collards and mustard, has become the object of increasing interest as an oil crop. It has been reported that B. carinata adapts better and is more productive than B. napus (canola) in adverse conditions, such as clay and sandy soils and under low management cropping systems (1). In late February 2012, symptoms typical of sclerotinia stem rot were observed in B. carinata trials (cultivars 090867 EM and 080814 EM) at the University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center located in Quincy, FL. Approximately 20 to 30% of the B. carinata cultivar 090867 EM were observed to have symptoms and approximately 5% of cultivar 080814 EM displayed symptoms. Stems had white mycelia growing on the outside, plants were lodging and spherical to cylindrical, 3 to 8 mm, and black sclerotia were found outside and inside bleached stems. Sclerotia from diseased stems were surface sterilized and placed in 9-cm diameter petri plates on quarter strength potato dextrose agar (PDA) amended with 25% lactic acid. Fungal cultures consisting of white mycelia and medium-sized (mean 4 mm), black, irregular sclerotia were consistently recovered and identified as Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary based on morphological characteristics (3). Sequence analyses were conducted on mycelium by extracting fungal DNA with the Qiagen DNeasy Plant Mini Kit (Valencia, CA). PCR amplification was performed using primers ITS1 and ITS4. The BLAST search revealed that the sequence (GenBank Accession No. JX307092) had 99 and 100% sequence identity with S. sclerotiorum GenBank accessions JN013184.1 and JN012606.1. Pathogenicity was determined by inoculating six 1-month-old B. carinata plants (cultivars 090867 EM and 080814 EM) that were grown in greenhouse pots (20 cm in diameter). Mycelia plugs (8 mm in diameter) were excised from the colony margin after 6 days of incubation at room temperature (approximately 25°C), and placed on stems, at the soil line, of B. carinata plants. Six control plants were inoculated with noncolonized PDA plugs. All plants were enclosed in plastic bags that had been sprayed with water on the inside to maintain high humidity and kept in the laboratory at room temperature (approximately 25°C). Symptoms similar to those observed in the field were evident after 3 days on inoculated plants and S. sclerotiorum was reisolated. In the controls, no symptoms developed and the fungus could not be isolated. The experiment was repeated with similar results. The majority of rapeseed production is in North Dakota, where sclerotinia stem rot caused by S. sclerotiorum is a major fungal disease affecting production (2). Currently, there is no significant B. carinata production in Florida; however, interest in biofuels could lead to an increase in planted acreage and sclerotinia stem rot could become a significant disease problem in areas of Florida were B. carinata is planted. To our knowledge, this is the first report of sclerotinia stem rot of B. carinata caused by S. sclerotiorum in Florida.
References: (1) M. Cardone et al. Biomass and Bioenergy. 25:623, 2003. (2) L. E. del Río et al. Plant Dis. 91:191, 2007. (3) L. M. Kohn. Phytopathology 69:881, 1979.