Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is grown worldwide as a major food crop. Potato early blight is an important disease caused by Alternaria solani (4). In 2011, diseased potato leaves with blight symptoms were collected from 21 sites (incidence averaged 60% for about 2,000 ha of potato fields examined) in Gansu Province, northwest China. Small pieces of tissue taken from the margin between healthy and diseased tissues were surface-disinfected in 0.3% NaOCl for 2 min, rinsed with sterilized, distilled water, then placed on potato dextrose agar (PDA) at 25°C in the dark. Two of 24 Alternaria isolates from single-spore cultures were identified preliminarily as A. tenuissima, and the remaining isolates as A. solani or A. alternata, based on morphological traits. Colony appearance on potato carrot agar (PCA) was loosely cottony under a day/night cycle of 8 h fluorescent light/16 h dark at 22°C for 7 days (3). The isolates were characterized by formation of unbranched conidial chains up to 12 conidia in length, with one or two lateral branches forming occasionally. Conidia were typically ovoid to obclavate, and ranged from 20.4 to 42.4 × 7.7 to 13.2 μm. Transverse septa and longitudinal septa of conidia varied from 1 to 6 and 0 to 2, respectively. Short conidiophores arose singly and were 15.1 to 76.8 μm long by 2.4 to 6.2 μm wide. The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of rDNA and partial coding sequence of a histone gene were amplified from genomic DNA of the two A. tenuissima isolates using the ITS1/ITS4 and H3-1a/H3-1b primers (2), respectively. The ITS sequences of the two isolates (GenBank Accession Nos. JX495165 and JX495166) were 100% identical to those of A. tenuissima strains sdau 07-100 and BL08-3 (GQ871507 and AB470887), as well as to other Alternaria species, but the partial histone gene sequences (JX495167 and JX495168) were 99% identical to those of A. tenuissima isolates CR27, MA1, MA6, and CN-L-01 (AF404622, AF404633, AF404634, and EF371552, respectively) with less similarity to those of other Alternaria spp. Therefore, the isolates were identified as A. tenuissima based on morphological and molecular characteristics. Pathogenicity tests were conducted by inoculating detached leaves (30 per isolate) from 45-day-old plants of potato cv. Favorita with 20 μl drops (one drop per leaf) of a conidial suspension containing 106 conidia/ml in sterilized, distilled water. Thirty control leaves were inoculated similarly with sterilized, distilled water. Inoculated leaves were incubated in chambers at 25°C and 90% RH with a 12-h photoperiod/day. After 7 days, symptoms on the inoculated leaves were similar to those naturally occurring on the original plants, and the two cultures were reisolated consistently from those leaves, and the species identity was confirmed by morphological and molecular characteristics, fulfilling Koch's postulates. The control leaves remained asymptomatic and Alternaria was not isolated from those leaves. Alternaria blight of potato caused by A. tenuissima was previously detected in Iran (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of A. tenuissima causing blight on potatoes in China.
References: (1) S. T. Ardestani et al. Iran. J. Plant Pathol. 45:83, 2010. (2) N. L. Glass and G. C. Donaldson. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61:1323, 1995. (3) E. G. Simmons. Alternaria. An Identification Manual. CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 2007. (4) J. E. van der Waals et al. Plant Dis. 88:959, 2004.