Impatiens downy mildew (Plasmopara obducens (J. Schröt.) J. Schröt. (syn Peronospora obducens) was first reported in the United States in 2004, but widespread outbreaks were observed throughout North America in 2011 (5). In June 2012, symptoms, including severe defoliation while plants retained upright stems, were observed on approximately 100 landscape impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook.f.) in Franklin County in central Kentucky. All plants in the landscape were affected. Plants were primarily defoliated and remaining leaves were stunted, mottled, and chlorotic with edges curled downward; no flowers were present. Under examination with a dissecting microscope, white downy fungal growth was observed. Closer examination confirmed that the growth consisted of colorless sporangiophores that were mainly unbranched, straight, and rigid (1,3). Sporangiophores consisted of apical branches attached at right angles to main axes, ranging from 67.2 to 89.9 μm long (1). Sporangia were ovoid and hyaline, measuring 11.2 to 13.3 μm × 8.2 to 10.7 μm (3). No oospores were observed. Pathogenicity tests were performed by inoculating 20 to 40 leaves on three plants each of the cvs. Dazzler and Super Elfin with suspensions of 1 × 105 sporangiophores per ml in sterile distilled water. Sporangia were obtained by washing infected leaves with sterile distilled water, and inoculations were completed by spraying leaves until runoff. Plants sprayed with sterile water served as controls. Plants were covered with black plastic bags for 48 h and then maintained under fluorescent lights for 10 days at room temperature (22 to 25°C). Sporangiophores were recovered from inoculated plants after 10 days, and morphology matched original inoculum; symptoms included chlorotic, downward curling leaves with sporulation on the undersides. Non-inoculated plants did not develop symptoms after 21 days. Molecular identification of the pathogen was conducted using three leaves from one plant from each cultivar. PCR was conducted by amplifying the large ribosomal subunit DNA using primers NL-1 and NL-4 (2). Amplicons of 762 to 691 bp were produced from diseased plant tissue that contained visible sporangiophores, and the bands were extracted from the gel and purified. Sequence results confirmed 100% similarity to accessions from Florida (GenBank Accession No. JX217746.1) and Ohio (JX142134.1) and 99% similarity to amplicons reported from Serbia (HQ246451.1) and UK (AY587558.1). This is believed to be the first report of downy mildew infecting impatiens in Kentucky.
References: (1) O. Constantinescu. Mycologia 83:473, 1991. (2) W. Maier et al. Can. J. Bot 81:12, 2003. (3) P. A. Saccardo. Syllogue Fungorum 7:242, 1888. (4) S. N. Wegulo et al. Plant Dis. 88:909, 2004.