H. B. Lee, Division of Applied Bioscience and Biotechnology, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Chonnam National University, Gwangju 500-757, Republic of Korea. This study was funded by NRF (2010-0012153) and in part supported by the Technology Development Program (111095-3) for Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of Korea
Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium L., Asteraceae) is an annual broadleaf weed native to the Americas and eastern Asia. The plant is known as one of the worst competitive weeds in soybean fields and also is known to have some phytopharmacological or toxicological properties. In October 2011, a powdery mildew disease was observed on cocklebur growing in a natural landscape at Geomun Oreum located in Jeju Island, South Korea. Initial signs appeared as thin white colonies, which subsequently developed abundant growth on adaxial leaf surfaces. As the disease progressed, brown discoloration extended down infected leaves which withered. Conidia were formed singly and terminally on conidiophores. Primary conidia (20.3 to 28.6 [average 25.1] μm long × 11.1 to 15.2 [14.3] μm wide, n = 30) were ellipsoid with a round apex and truncate base. Conidiophores were straight or slightly curved and 60.1 to 101.7 (97.3) μm long × 8.2 to 13.2 (11.3) μm wide. Chasmothecia were not observed. No fibrosin bodies were observed in the conidia. Morphological characteristics were consistent with descriptions of Podosphaera xanthii (syn. P. fusca) (2,4). To confirm the identity of the causal fungus, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region inclusive of 5.8S and 28S rDNA was amplified from white patches consisting of mycelia and conidia on one leaf using ITS1 (5′-TCCGTAGGTGAACCTGCGG-3′) and LR5F (5′-GCTATCCTGAGGGAAAC-3′), and LROR (5′-ACCCGCTGAACTTAAGC-3′) and LR5F primer sets, respectively. The resulting sequences were deposited in GenBank (Accession Nos. JX502022 and JX964999). A NCBI BLASTn search revealed that the rDNA ITS (JX502022) and 28S (JX964999) homologies of isolate EML-XSPW1 represented 99.6% (512/514) and 100% (803/803) identity values with those of P. xanthii (AB040330 and AB462792, respectively). The rDNA ITS and 28S sequence analysis revealed that the causal fungus clustered with P. xanthii (syn. P. fusca), falling into the Xanthii/Fusca phylogenetic group (2,4). Pathogenicity was confirmed through inoculations made by gently pressing infected leaves onto mature leaves of healthy cocklebur plants in the field in August. The six inoculated leaves were sealed in sterilized vinyl bags to maintain humid conditions for 2 days. Seven days after inoculation, symptoms similar to those observed under natural infection were observed on the inoculated plant leaves. No symptoms developed on the uninoculated control plants. A fungal pathogen that was morphologically identical to the fungus originally observed on diseased plants was also observed on inoculated plants. Erysiphe cichoracearum, E. communis, Oidium asteris-punicei, O. xanthimi, P. xanthii, and P. fuliginea have all been reported to cause powdery mildew on cocklebur (1). P. xanthii was first reported on X. strumarium in Russia (3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of powdery mildew on cocklebur caused by P. xanthii in Korea. The powdery mildew pathogen may represent an option for biocontrol of the noxious weed in the near future.
References: (1) D. F. Farr and A. Y. Rossman. Fungal Databases, Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, ARS, USDA. Retrieved from http://nt.ars-grin.gov/fungaldatabases, December 11, 2012. (2) H. B. Lee. J. Microbiol. 51:1075, 2012. (3) V. A. Rusanov and T. S. Bulgakov. Mikol. Fitopatol. 42:314, 2008. (4) S. Takamatsu et al. Persoonia 24:38, 2010.