Garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.), belonging to the family Brassicaceae, is an edible herb with peppery flavor and aroma (2). This plant was recently introduced and is cultivated as an edible green under organic farming in Korea. In September 2012, seedlings showing typical symptoms of powdery mildew were found in greenhouses in Pyeongchang County, Korea. Symptoms first appeared as thin white colonies, which progressed to abundant growth on the leaves and stems. Infected herbs were unmarketable mainly due to signs of senescence and withering of leaves and mostly abandoned without becoming harvested. Two samples of diseased leaves were deposited in the Korea University Herbarium (KUS Accession Nos. F27137 and F27150). Appressoria on the mycelium were well-developed, lobed, and solitary or in opposite pairs. Conidiophores were unbranched, cylindrical, 88 to 120 × 8.5 to 10 μm, and composed of 3 to 4 cells. Foot-cells of conidiophores were straight to sub-straight, cylindric, 22 to 42 μm long, and generally equal to or shorter than the upper cells. Singly produced conidia were oblong to cylindrical or oval, 34 to 52 × 14 to 18 μm with a length/width ratio of 2.2 to 3.3, with angular/rectangular wrinkling of outer walls, and no distinct fibrosin bodies. Germ tubes were produced on the perihilar position of conidia. No chasmothecia were found. These structures are typical of the powdery mildew Pseudoidium anamorph of the genus Erysiphe. The specific measurements match with those of E. cruciferarum Opiz ex L. Junell as previously described (1). To confirm the identification, the complete internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA from KUS-F27150 was amplified with primers ITS5 and P3 and directly sequenced (4). The resulting 554-bp sequence was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. KC414675). The amplified ITS sequence shared >99% similarity with the sequences of E. cruciferarum on several brassicaceous hosts (EU140958, FJ548627, and GU721075). Pathogenicity was confirmed through inoculation by gently dusting conidia onto leaves of five healthy potted garden cress plants. Five non-inoculated plants served as controls. Inoculated plants were isolated from non-inoculated plants in separate rooms in a greenhouse at 18 to 24°C. Inoculated plants developed signs and symptoms after 8 days, whereas the control plants remained symptomless. The fungus present on the inoculated plants was morphologically identical to that originally observed on diseased plants, fulfilling Koch's postulates. Previously, the disease was reported in several European countries and southeastern Asia (Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Iraq, India, and China) (3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of powdery mildew caused by E. cruciferarum on garden cress in Korea. Since garden cress production was only recently started on a commercial scale in Korea, powdery mildew infections pose a serious threat to the production of this herb, especially in organic farming where chemical control options are limited.
References: (1) U. Braun and R. T. A. Cook. Taxonomic Manual of the Erysiphales (Powdery Mildews), CBS Biodiversity Series No.11. CBS, Utrecht, 2012. (2) S. Choudhary et al. Indian J. Agric. Sci. 80:752, 2010. (3) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases, Syst. Mycol. Microbiol. Lab., Online publication. ARS, USDA. Retrieved December 2, 2012. (4) S. Takamatsu et al. Mycol. Res. 113:117, 2009.