Hibiscus mutabilis L., known as cotton rose, is a deciduous shrub native to China. Horticultural varieties of the species are widely planted throughout the world (4). In September 2012, typical powdery mildew symptoms on the cotton rose were observed in a public garden of Jeju City, Korea. Powdery mildew colonies were circular to irregular white patches on both sides of the leaves and also on young stems and sepals. As the disease progressed, white mycelial growth covered the entire shoot portion, causing leaf distortion. In the middle of November, numerous chasmothecia were formed on the lesions. Voucher specimens (n = 4) were deposited in the Korea University Herbarium (KUS). Hyphal appressoria were only swollen part of hyphae or occasionally nipple-shaped. Conidiophores were 140 to 275 × 10 to 11.5 μm and produced 2 to 8 immature conidia in chains with a crenate outline. Foot-cells of conidiophores were straight, 30 to 65 μm long, and cylindric. Conidia were hyaline, ellipsoid-ovoid, and measured 27 to 42 × 17.5 to 21 μm with a length/width ratio of 1.5 to 2.4, and had distinct fibrosin bodies. Chasmothecia were amphigenous, cauligenous, 85 to 110 μm in diameter, and contained one ascus each. Peridium cells of chasmothecia were irregularly polygonal, large, and 15 to 38 μm wide. Appendages were mycelioid, 1- to 6-septate, brown at the base, and becoming paler. Asci were sessile, oval to broadly fusiform, with terminal oculus of 15 to 20 μm wide. Ascospores numbered eight per ascus were ellipsoidal, 19 to 25 × 14 to 16 μm. The morphological characteristics were consistent with previous records of P. xanthii (Castagne) U. Braun & Shishkoff (1). To confirm the identification, the complete internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA from isolate KUS-F27134 was amplified with the primers ITS5 and P3 and sequenced (3). The resulting sequence of 477 bp was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. KC460208). The Korean isolate showed >99% similarity with dozens of sequences of P. xanthii ex cucurbitaceous hosts (e.g., JQ912061, JQ409565, HM070403, etc.) as well as Podosphaera sp. ex H. mutabilis from Japan (AB040308). Pathogenicity was confirmed through inoculation tests by gently pressing diseased leaves onto young leaves of three asymptomatic, potted 2-year-old seedlings. Three non-inoculated seedlings were used as controls. Plants were maintained in a greenhouse at 24 to 30°C. Inoculated leaves developed symptoms after 7 days, whereas the control plants remained symptomless. The fungus present on the inoculated leaves was morphologically identical to that observed on the original diseased leaves, fulfilling Koch's postulates. Powdery mildew infections of H. mutabilis associated with P. xanthii (including P. fuliginea in broad sense) have been known in China, Japan, and Taiwan (1,2). To our knowledge, this is the first report of powdery mildew caused by P. xanthii on H. mutabilis in Korea. Since Jeju, the southmost island of Korea, is the only habitat of cotton rose in Korea and is the northmost natural habitat in Asia, powdery mildew is a new threat to the health of wild populations of cotton rose.
References: (1) U. Braun and R. T. A. Cook. Taxonomic Manual of the Erysiphales (Powdery Mildews), CBS Biodiversity Series No.11. CBS, Utrecht, 2012. (2) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases. Syst. Mycol. Microbiol. Lab., Online publication, ARS, USDA, retrieved January 18, 2013. (3) S. Takamatsu et al. Mycol. Res. 113:117, 2009. (4) D. A. Wise. J. Hered. 64:285, 1973.