Platanus occidentalis L. (sycamore) is an important shade tree distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere and in South Korea. It has been widely used as an ornamental tree, especially in urban regions and by roadsides. The average rate of roadside planting throughout South Korea covers about 5.7% (up to 38% in Seoul), equivalent to 0.36 million trees. In early July 2012, after a rainy spell in summer, an outbreak of powdery mildew on sycamore was first observed on roadside trees in Gwangju, a southern province of South Korea. A more extensive nationwide survey revealed no powdery mildew in northern or central regions of South Korea. The disease has spread rapidly within Gwangju, even though fungicide applications were carried out after the rainy spell. Major symptoms included white, superficial mycelia, grey to brown lesions on the surface of the leaves due to the presence of a hyperparasite (tentatively identified as Ampelomyces sp.), a slight chlorosis, and severe leaf distortion followed by defoliation. Conidiophores were produced singly, straight, and unbranched, with lengths of 35.2 to 315.2 μm (average 170.4 μm). Conidia were ellipsoid or doliiform, ranging in size from 34.9 to 47.4 μm (average 38.2 μm) long × 16.5 to 26.8 μm (average 23.9 μm) wide. Primary conidia had a truncate base and rounded apex; secondary conidia had both a truncate base and apex. The conidial outer surface had a reticulated wrinkling. Cleistothecia (i.e., sexual spore structures) were not found during the survey, which extended from July to October. These characteristics and the host species match those of Microsphaera platani (syn. Erysiphe platani), which was described on P. occidentalis in Washington State (2). Fungal rDNA was amplified using primers ITS1 and LR5F (4) for one sample (EML-PLA1, GenBank JX485651). BLASTn searches of GenBank revealed high sequence identity to E. platani (99.5% to JQ365943 and 99.3% to JQ365940). Recently, Liang et al. (3) reported the first occurrence of powdery mildew by E. platani on P. orientalis in China based only on its morphology. Thus, in this study, author could only use ITS sequence data from the United States and Europe to characterize the isolate. To date, nine records of powdery mildews of Platanus spp. have been reported worldwide: on P. hispanica from Brazil, Japan, Hungary, and Slovakia; P. orientalis from Israel; P. racemosa from the United States; P. × acerifolia from the United Kingdom and Germany; and Platanus sp. from Argentina and Australia (1). Interestingly, the hyperparasite, Ampelomyces sp., was found with E. platani, suggesting that there may be some level of biocontrol in nature. Pathogenicity was confirmed by gently pressing diseased leaves onto six leaves of healthy sycamore plants in the field in September. The treated leaves were sealed in sterilized vinyl pack to maintain humid condition for 2 days. Similar symptoms were observed on the inoculated leaves 10 days after inoculation. Koch's postulates were fulfilled by re-observing the fungal pathogen. To our knowledge, this is the first report of powdery mildew caused by E. platani on sycamore in South Korea.
References: (1) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases, Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, ARS, USDA. http://nt.ars-grin.gov/fungaldatabases/, 2012. (2) D. A. Glawe. Plant Health Progress, doi:10.1094/PHP-2003-0818-01-HN, 2003. (3) C. Liang et al. Plant Pathol. 57:375, 2008. (4) T. J White et al., pp. 315-322 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. M. A. Innis et al., ed. Academic Press, New York, 1990.