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First Report of Sugarcane Leaf Scald in Gabon Caused by a Highly Virulent and Aggressive Strain of Xanthomonas albilineans

July 2013 , Volume 97 , Number  7
Pages  988.3 - 988.3

I. Mensi, J.-C. Girard, and I. Pieretti, CIRAD, UMR BGPI, F-34398 Montpellier, France; F. Larbre, SUCAF GABON, BP610, Franceville, Gabon; and P. Roumagnac, M. Royer, and P. Rott, CIRAD, UMR BGPI, F-34398 Montpellier, France

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Accepted for publication 5 February 2013.

During a disease inspection at the sugarcane estate SUCAF near Franceville, Gabon, in March 2011, 0.5 to 1 cm wide chlorotic stripes covered with many small red streaks were observed on sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) leaves of a single plant of cultivar R581. After removal of the leaves covering the base of the stalks, abnormal development of basal side shoots was also observed. Transversal sections of a diseased stalk showed reddening of the vessels near the nodes. Circular, convex, smooth, shiny, translucent, non-mucoid, honey-yellow pigmented bacterial colonies were isolated from stalk pieces and side shoots on XAS selective agar medium (1). The nucleotide sequence of the 16S-23S internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of a representative colony was shown to be 100% identical to the 16S-23S ITS sequence from the genome of Xanthomonas albilineans strain GPE PC73 (GenBank: FP565176.1). This strain from Gabon was named GAB266. Sugarcane stalks of greenhouse grown cultivar CP68-1026 were inoculated with X. albilineans strains XaFL07-1 from Florida, GPE PC73 from Guadeloupe, and GAB266. Five stalks were inoculated by the modified decapitation method (3) with each strain or with a water control. One month post-inoculation (MPI), white pencil lines and severe necrosis were observed on leaves inoculated with strains XaFL07-1 and GPE PC73, and no disease symptoms appeared on non-inoculated leaves that developed 2 to 3 MPI. These results are in agreement with those generally obtained after inoculation of susceptible sugarcane cultivars with X. albilineans strains from various geographical locations under greenhouse conditions (Rott, unpublished results). In contrast, 1 MPI, only discrete white to red pencil lines were observed along with necrosis on leaves inoculated with strain GAB266, and by 2 to 3 MPI, all five inoculated plants were wilted. The pathogen was successfully reisolated by the stalk blot inoculation technique (3) with XAS medium, from all five inoculated stalks and from 98 of 114 internodes. In a second greenhouse experiment, the same three strains of X. albilineans were inoculated as described above into five sugarcane cultivars differing in resistance to leaf scald in Guadeloupe (2) (CP68-1026, highly susceptible; B69566, susceptible; R570, tolerant; B8008, resistant; Co6415, highly resistant). The same symptoms as those described above were again observed on inoculated leaves of the five sugarcane cultivars 1 MPI. Strains XaFL07-1 and GPE PC73 produced occasionally a single pencil line on non-inoculated leaves 2 to 3 MPI, but only strain GAB266 caused leaf scalding and/or plant death 2 to 3 MPI: cultivar CP68-1026 (5 of 5 plants), B69566 (5 of 5 plants), R570 (4 of 5 plants), B8008 (5 of 5 plants), and only non-inoculated leaves of cultivar Co6415 remained symptomless (5 plants). Strain GAB266 from Gabon appeared, therefore, more virulent and aggressive than the two strains of X. albilineans from Florida and Guadeloupe. To our knowledge, this is the first report of leaf scald of sugarcane in Gabon and the first description of an unusual highly virulent and aggressive strain of X. albilineans. A large-scale survey needs to be undertaken to determine the distribution of leaf scald disease and this new pathotype/race of X. albilineans in Gabon and other geographical locations.

References: (1) M. J. Davis et al. Plant Dis. 78:78, 1994. (2) P. Rott et al. Phytopathology 87:1202, 1997 (3) P. Rott et al. Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 24:594, 2011.

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