Shoot blight, twig and branch cankers with grayish discoloration, roughened tissue, and dieback were observed in 5-year-old European hazelnut trees (Corylus avellana L.) cv. Barcelona at two commercial plantations in the Allipén locality, Region de La Araucanía (38° 59′ 24.76″ S, 72° 29′ 35.58″ W), Chile, during the 2011 to 2012 growing season. In addition, discoloration of the wood was observed in cross-sections. In order to isolate the causal agent, entire twigs and shoot fragments with cankers were sterilized in 0.5% sodium hypochlorite for 2 minutes, followed by two rinses with sterile distilled water. The tissues were then stored in a humid chamber. Sub-epidermal black pycnidia with sporulation were detected on the symptomatic tissue. Conidia were transferred to potato dextrose agar (PDA) (Difco, Lawrence, KS) and incubated at 25°C in the dark. The mycelia were black, creeping, and compact in appearance. The mature conidia were dark brown with a single septum, slightly constricted at the septum, and ovoid with a broadly rounded apex; some had a truncated base. Conidia had the following measurements: (20.0-) 23.1 ± 1.9 (-28.0) × (10-) 11.9 ± 1.2 (-15) μm with an average length/width ratio of 1.95 ± 0.17 (n = 50). These morphometric characteristics correspond to those of Diplodia coryli Fuckel (1870), teleomorph: Botryosphaeria sensu lato. The identity of the fungus was confirmed using internal transcribed spacer (ITS) rDNA sequencing completed at CABI, United Kingdom. The sequencing report indicated that the isolate (IMI-501235a) had 100% homology with a reference strain (CBS 242.51) in the CBS collection. The obtained sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. JX163116). The anamorphs of Botryosphaeria have been divided into up to 18 genera (1), many of which are not clearly defined. Diplodia (3), including D. coryli (CBS 242.51) and D. juglandis (CBS 188.87), have been included within the genus Dothiorella (2), but the taxon names have not been formally changed. A pathogenicity test was conducted with one isolate (IMI-501235a) and four 1-year-old plants of hazelnut cultivar Barcelona. Plants were maintained in individual bags in greenhouse conditions (14/10 hours dark/light, 20°C; 70% RH). Prior to inoculation, plant tissues were externally disinfected with sodium hypochlorite (2%) and rinsed with sterile distilled water. Each plant was inoculated at fresh wound sites on two shoots and three twigs around each vegetative bud. The inoculum consisted of an agar plug with mycelia (5 mm) from the margin of an actively growing colony cultured on PDA media for 7 days. Each wound was covered with moistened cotton and sealed with Parafilm; a control plant was inoculated in the same way with agar only. After 3 months, fragments of necrotic and discolored vascular system tissues from inoculated shoots were removed and incubated on PDA. D. coryli was consistently recovered from these tissues, satisfying Koch's postulates. The control plant showed no symptoms of the disease. D. coryli has been reported to cause symptoms of dieback (dead branches) in Italy and Spain. To our knowledge, this is the first report of D. coryli on C. avellana cv. Barcelona in Chile. European hazelnut is an emerging crop in Chile, grown mainly for export, and management strategies for this disease will need to be developed.
References: (1) S. Denman et al. Stud. Mycol. 45:129, 2000. (2) A. J. L. Phillips et al. Persoonia 21:29, 2008. (3) A. J. L. Phillips et al. Mycologia 97:513, 2005.