The hardy garden mum Chrysanthemum, or “mum” (Chrysanthemum × morifolium Ram.), is a popular flowering herbaceous perennial that is commonly grown for fall sales. In October 2011, suspected wilt disease was observed in potted hardy garden mums (cv. Guiin) grown in greenhouses in Jinju, South Korea. Symptoms included unilateral chlorosis of leaves at the stem apex. Wilted leaves occurred initially on the most severely affected side of the plant, but as the disease progressed, the entire plant wilted and died. Black necrosis and vascular discoloration at the base of stems always developed. Five fungal isolates, successfully isolated from 10 infected stems on potato dextrose agar (PDA), yielded rapidly growing floccose to felt-like colonies, initially white, but turning peach colored. The microconidia were ellipsoid, ovoid, and cylindrical, and measured 3 to 12 × 1 to 3 μm. The macroconidia were falcate, lunate, and measured 8 to 30 × 2 to 4 μm, and had 1 to 5 septa. Pathogenicity was studied in inoculated, potted plants in a greenhouse. A representative isolate of the fungus was grown on PDA at 20°C for about 10 days before inoculation. To obtain conidial suspensions, 10 ml of sterile distilled water (SDW) was added to the culture plates and scraped with a paintbrush to dislodge conidia. The suspension from the culture plates was filtered through cheesecloth and diluted to 2 × 104 micro- and macroconidia/ml with SDW. Nine 3-month-old hardy garden mums were planted in 20-cm-diameter plastic pots containing fine sand. After 10 days, the roots were cut to a depth of 5 cm on two sides of each plant at a distance of 2 cm from the stems. Then, 10 ml of conidial suspension were poured into each pot above the cuts roots, followed by 20 ml 12 days later. Three mums treated with SDW served as controls. Plants were fertilized twice weekly with 100 ml/pot of a nutrient solution (1) that lowered the soil pH and enhanced wilt development. Thirty days after inoculation, all of the artificially inoculated plants had wilted. The control mums remained healthy. The fungus was successfully reisolated to complete Koch's postulates. On the basis of the morphological characters, the fungus was identified as Fusarium oxysporum (3). To identify the isolated fungus, the complete internal transcribe spacer (ITS) rDNA and translation elongation factor 1-alpha (EF1-α) sequences were amplified using the primers ITS1/ITS4 and EF1/EF2, respectively, and sequenced. The resulting sequences were deposited in GenBank (Accession Nos. KC491873 and KC491875). A BLAST search of ITS rDNA (544 bp) and EF1-α (712 bp) sequences against a database of fungal isolates found 100% and 99% similarity to those of F. oxysporum, respectively. Fusarium wilt caused by F. oxysporim on C. morifolium has been previously recorded in North America and India but, to our knowledge, this is the first report of F. oxysporum causing wilt in hardy garden mum in Korea (2). F. oxysporum isolates causing wilts are specific to certain hosts and even to host varieties or cultivars. Further work is required to determine to which forma specialis and race the pathogen belongs.
References: (1) A. W. Engelhard and S. S. Woltz. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 84:351, 1971. (2) H. C. Huang et al. Plant Pathol. Bull. 1:57, 1992. (3) C. V. Subramanian. CMI Descriptions of Pathogenic Fungi and Bacteria. No. 217, 1970.