In the winter of 2011, greenhouse-grown zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) in Andong City, Korea, showed severe disease symptoms on fruits and dying leaves of zucchini plants that resembled gray mold disease with about 20% yield loss. Symptoms included extensive growth of mycelia and gray conidia on stem and fruit lesions. Lesions expanded rapidly under cool, humid conditions. As the disease progressed, leaves, stems, and fruits became necrotic and were covered by an abundant, soft, gray, sporulating mycelium. Diseased fruit tissue was excised and surface sterilized by immersion in 2% NaOCl for 1 min, placed on PDA (potato dextrose agar), and incubated at 22°C. Fungal colonies were initially white and became gray to brown after 72 h. Analysis of light micrographs showed the presence of elliptical conidia on PDA that was 7.5 to 16.0 μm long and 5 to 10.5 μm wide. In culture, a few, black, small and large irregular sclerotia were produced. Microsclerotia were round, spherical or irregular in shape, and ranged from 1.0 to 3.3 and 1.2 to 3.4 mm (width and length). Conidiophores were slender and branched with enlarged apical cells bearing smooth, ash-colored conidia. These morphological characteristics identified the fungus as Botrytis cinerea (1). The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA was amplified using the ITS1 (forward) and ITS4 (reverse) primer set (ITS1: 5′-TCCGTAGGTGAACCTGCGG-3′, ITS4: 5′-TCCTCCGCTTATTGATATGC-3′) and sequenced (2). BLAST analysis of the PCR product showed that the sequence had 100% identity with the nucleotide sequences for B. cinerea. Pathogenicity tests were performed by placing mycelium fragments (1 cm2) of PDA cultures on zucchini fruits. Controls were treated with PDA alone. Five replicates for the inoculated and control plants were used. All fruits were covered with plastic bags and incubated in a growth chamber to maintain 90 to 100% relative humidity at 22°C. Typical symptoms appeared 2 to 6 days after inoculation. The inoculated plants developed typical gray mold symptoms with gray sporulating lesions, while controls remained healthy with no lesions. B. cinerea reisolated from the inoculated tissues was morphologically identical to the original isolates. In a cold outside (below 0°C), wet greenhouse, plants are likely to be exposed to resident Botrytis populations and if the gray mold disease occurs, it can spread on zucchini plants very fast, in 2 days to a week inside a 100 m2 greenhouse. Therefore, gray mold disease could have a significant impact on greenhouse production of zucchini. To our knowledge, this is the first report of B. cinerea causing gray mold of greenhouse-grown zucchini in Korea.
References: (1) H. L. Barnett and B. B. Hunter. Illustrated Genera of Imperfect Fungi. Burgess Publishing Company, Minneapolis, MN, 1972. (2) T. J. White et al. PCR Protocols. Academic Press, Inc., New York, 1990.