Luffa cylindrica (Cucurbitaceae) is an Asian vine widely known as the source of loofah (4). In Brazil (local name bucha), it is cultivated by small scale producers as a cash crop. In January 2012, samples of fruits were collected in three areas in the municipality of Cipotânea, state of Minas Gerais (Brazil) bearing rot symptoms. These had large necrotic areas with a grayish epidermis and slightly sunken tissue. Internally, the fibrous parts were necrosed, darkened, and unmarketable. Isolations by surface sterilization of necrotic tissue with 10% bleach and plating onto potato dextrose agar yielded colonies with consistent morphology. A representative culture was deposited in the culture collection of the Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV) as COAD1119. Inoculations of seven healthy-appearing L. cylindrica fruits were performed with culture disks obtained from 4-day-old cultures grown on PDA, which were placed onto two points on the epidermis of each of seven fruits. Each point was either intact or previously injured with a sterile needle. Controls consisted of two fruits treated equally but with tap water agar disks in place of fungal inoculum. Fruits were then placed on trays with water-soaked cotton and the trays were wrapped in plastic bags and left over a bench at room temperature for 2 days. The plastic bags were then removed. After 5 days, necrosis was evident and fungal fruit bodies appeared at points with injury. No symptoms appeared on controls. Isolation from diseased tissue yielded colonies identical to those of the inoculated fungus. A dried sample was deposited in the local herbarium at UFV (VIC 32053). Slides were mounted in lactophenol and observed. The fungus had subepidermal perithecia, globose to subglobose, from 75.5 to 134 μm diam.; asci bitunicate, cylindrical, 8-spored; pseudoparaphyses filiform; ascospores fusoid to ellipsoidal, from 26 to 45 μm long and 8 to 11.5 μm wide, one septate, and hyaline. This morphology is consistent with Stagonosporopsis cucurbitacearum (syn. Didymella bryoniae) (3), a broad spectrum pathogen of cucurbits. Genomic DNA was extracted from the isolate growing in pure culture and ITS and LSU sequences were generated and deposited in GenBank under the accession numbers KC582022 and KC582021, respectively. Sequences were compared in BLASTn with other entries in GenBank, and the closest match for each region were S. cucurbitacearum strain CAP14C and D. bryoniae strain CBS 133.96 (JQ936326 and GU456335) with 100% of nucleotide homology for ITS and 100% of nucleotide homology for LSU. Cercospora citrullina and C. cucurbitae have been reported in Brazil on L. cylindrica and mistakenly indicated as synonyms of D. bryoniae (2). To our knowledge, this is the first valid report of S. cucurbitacearum causing fruit rot of loofah in Brazil and the first time pathogenicity to this host has been demonstrated. Losses due to the disease on the crop were reported to be high by growers and management to be difficult since there are no fungicides registered for this crop in Brazil.
References: (1) M. M. Aveskamp et al. Stud. Mycol 65:1, 2010. (2) M. A. S. Mendes and A. F. Urben. Fungos em Plantas no Brasil. Brasília, Brazil: EMBRAPA-SPI. Retrieved from http://pragawall.cenargen.embrapa.br/aiqweb/michtml/micbanco01a.asp, 2012. (3) E. Puithalingam and P. Holliday. CMI Descriptions of Pathogenic Fungi and Bacteria 332:1, 1972. (4) J. W. Purseglove. Tropical Crops – Dicotyledons. Longman Group, London, 1968.