Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.) is a tropical evergreen tree that produces one of the most prized tropical fruits, commonly known as the “Queen of the Fruits.″ Mangosteen has the potential to occupy a rapidly expanding niche market in Hawaii. In October 2009, a disease was observed that produced brown leaf spots and blotches surrounded by bright yellow halos at a mangosteen orchard located in Hakalau, Hawaii (19° 53′ 49″ N, 155° 7′ 35″ W). Recently transplanted 10+ year old trees were 95 to 100% infected. Pieces of infected leaves and stems were surface-sterilized, plated on potato dextrose agar (PDA), and incubated at 24°C ± 1°C for 21 days. The fungus growing on PDA was pale buff with sparse aerial mycelium and acervuli containing black, slimy spore masses. Single spore isolates were used for the morphological characteristics and molecular analysis. Conidia were 5-celled. Apical and basal cells were hyaline; the three median cells were umber to olivaceous. Conidia (n = 50) were 24.3 ± 0.2 × 7.5 ± 0.1 μm, with apical appendages, typically three, averaging 24.3 ± 0.4 μm long, and a basal appendage averaging 6.7 ± 0.2 μm long. DNA sequences were obtained from the β-tubulin gene and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS1 and ITS2) and 5.8S regions of the rDNA to confirm the identification. The morphological descriptions and measurements were similar to P. virgatula (Kleb.) Steyaert (1). Although sequence data of the ITS region (GenBank Accession No. JN542546) supports the identity of the fungus as P. virgatula, the taxonomy of this genus remains confused since there are only a few type cultures, so it is impossible to use sequences in GenBank to reliably clarify species names (2). To confirm pathogenicity, six leaves of two 3-year-old seedlings were inoculated. Seven-day-old cultures grown on 10% V8 agar at 24°C under continuous fluorescent lighting were used for inoculations. The inoculum consisted of spore suspensions in sterile distilled water adjusted to 6 × 105 conidia/ml. Using a fine haired paint brush, the inoculum was brushed onto the youngest leaves, while sterile distilled water was used as the control. The plants were incubated in a clear plastic bag placed on the laboratory bench at 24°C for 48 hours, then placed on a greenhouse bench and observed weekly for symptoms. After 14 days, leaf spots ranging in size from pinpoint to 5.4 mm in diameter with a distinctive yellow halo were present. Within 35 days, the leaf spots enlarged to leaf blotches ranging in size from 11.5 × 13.3 mm up to 28.3 × 34.6 mm with brown centers and a distinctive yellow halo identical to the field symptoms. A Pestalotiopsis sp. identical to that used to inoculate the seedlings was recovered from the leaf spots and blotches, confirming Koch's postulates. The experiment was repeated twice. Pestalotiopsis leaf blight has been reported in other countries growing mangosteen, including Thailand, Malaysia, and North Queensland, Australia (3). However, to our knowledge, this is the first report of a Pestalotiopsis sp. causing a disease on mangosteen in Hawaii. Although this disease is considered a minor problem in the literature (3), effective management practices should be established to avoid potential production losses.
References: (1) E. F. Guba. Monograph of Pestalotia and Monochaetia. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1961. (2) S. S. N. Maharachchikumbura et al. Fungal Div. 50:167, 2011. (3) R. C. Ploetz. Diseases of Tropical Fruit Crops. CABI Publishing. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK, 2003.