Hazel (Corylus heterophylla Fischl) is an important nut tree grown in China, especially in Liaoning Province, and is rich in nutritional and medicinal values. In August 2011, leaf spotting was observed on hybrid hazel (Dawei) leaves in Paotai Town, Wafangdian County of Liaoning Province. By August 2012, the disease had spread to Zhangdang Town, Fushun County. Symptoms initially appeared on both sides of leaves as pinpoint brown spots, which enlarged and developed into regular, dark brown lesions, 3 to 9 mm in diameter. The lesions were lighter in color in the center compared to the margin. To identify the pathogen, leaf pieces (3 to 5 mm) taken from the margins, including both symptomatic and healthy portions of leaf tissue, were surface-disinfected first in 75% ethanol for 5 s, next in 0.1% aqueous mercuric chloride for 50 s, and then rinsed with sterilized water three times. Leaf pieces were incubated on potato dextrose agar (PDA) at 25°C for 14 days in darkness. Single spore isolates were obtained from individual conidia. For studies of microscopic morphology, isolates were grown on synthetic nutrient agar (SNA) in slide cultures. Colonies grew up to 45 to 48 mm in diameter on PDA after 14 days. Pycnidia appeared on the colonies after 12 days. Conidiophores were short. Pycnidia were dark brown, subglobose, and 150 to 205 μm in diameter. Conidia were unicellular, colorless, ovoid to oval, and from 2.4 to 4.5 × 1.6 to 2.4 μm. On the basis of these morphological characteristics, the isolates were tentatively identified as Phyllosticta coryli Westend (2). The rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region was amplified using primers ITS1 and ITS4 and sequenced (GenBank Accession No. KC196068). The 490-bp amplicons had 100% identity to an undescribed Phyllosticta species isolated from Cornus macrophylla in Gansu, Tianshui, China (AB470897). On the basis of morphological characteristics and nucleotide homology, the isolate was tentatively identified as P. coryli. Koch's postulates were fulfilled in the growth chamber on hazelnut leaves inoculated with P. coryli conidial suspensions (107 conidia ml–1). Eight inoculated 1-year-old seedlings (Dawei) were incubated under moist conditions for 8 to 10 days at 25°C. All leaf spots that developed on inoculated leaves were similar in appearance to those observed on diseased hazel leaves in the field. P. coryli was recovered from lesions and its identity was confirmed by morphological characteristics. P. coryli was first reported as a pathogen of hazel leaves in Bull of Belgium (2). In China, P. coryli was first reported on Corylus heterophylla Fisch. in Jilin Province (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of P. coryli causing leaf spot on hybrid hazel in Liaoning Province of China. The outbreak and spread of this disease may decrease the yield of hazelnut in northern regions of China. More studies are needed on control strategies, including the possible resistance of hazel cultivars to P. coryli.
References: (1) Y. Li et al. J. Shenyang Agric. Univ. 25:153, 1994. (2) P. A. Saccardo. Sylloge Fungorum Vol. III, page 31, 1884.