In May 2014, a severe leaf spot disease was observed on walnut tree (Juglans regia L.) in Hechi, Guangxi, China. Leaf spots were circular to semicircular in shape, water-soaked, later becoming grayish white in the center with a dark brown margin and bordered by a tan halo. Necrotic lesions were approximately 3 to 4 mm in diameter. Diseased leaves were collected from 10 trees in each of five commercial orchards. The diseased leaves were cut into 5 × 5 mm slices, dipped in 75% ethanol for 30 s, washed three times in sterilized water, sterilized with 0.1% (w/v) HgCl2 for 3 min, and then rinsed five times with sterile distilled water. These slices were placed on potato dextrose agar (PDA), followed by incubating at 28°C for about 3 to 4 days. Fungal isolates were obtained from these diseased tissues, transferred onto PDA plates, and incubated at 28°C. These isolates produced gray aerial mycelium and then became pinkish gray with age. Moreover, the reverse of the colony was pink. The growth rate was 8.21 to 8.41 mm per day (average = 8.29 ± 0.11, n = 3) at 28°C. The colonies produced pale orange conidial masses and were fusiform with acute ends, hyaline, sometimes guttulate, 4.02 to 5.25 × 13.71 to 15.72 μm (average = 4.56 ± 0.31 × 14.87 ± 1.14 μm, n = 25). The morphological characteristics and measurements of this fungal isolate matched the previous descriptions of Colletotrichum fioriniae (Marcelino & Gouli) R.G. Shivas & Y.P. Tan (2). Meanwhile, these characterizations were further confirmed by analysis of the partial sequence of five genes: the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the ribosomal DNA, beta-tubulin (β-tub) gene, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) gene, chitin synthase 3(CHS-1) gene, and actin (ACT) gene, with universal primers ITS4/ITS5, T1/βt2b, GDF1/GDR1, CHS1-79F/CHS1-354R, and ACT-512F/ACT-783R, respectively (1). BLAST of these DNA sequences using the nucleotide database of GenBank showed a high identify (ITS, 99%; β-tub, 99%; GAPDH, 99%; CHS-1, 99%; and ACT, 100%) with the previously deposited sequences of C. fioriniae (ITS, KF278459.1, NR111747.1; β-tub, AB744079.1, AB690809.1; GAPDH, KF944355.1, KF944354.1; CHS-1, JQ948987.1, JQ949005.1; and ACT, JQ949625.1, JQ949626.1). Koch's postulates were fulfilled by inoculating six healthy 1-year-old walnut trees in July 2014 with maximum and minimum temperatures of 33 and 26°C. The 6-mm mycelial plug, which was cut from the margin of a 5-day-old colony of the fungus on PDA, was placed onto each pin-wounded leaf, ensuring good contact between the mycelium and the wound. Non-colonized PDA plugs were placed onto pin-wounds as negative controls. Following inoculation, both inoculated and control plants were covered with plastic bags. Leaf spots, similar to those on naturally infected plants, were observed on the leaves inoculated with C. fioriniae within 5 days. No symptoms were observed on the negative control leaves. Finally, C. fioriniae was re-isolated from symptomatic leaves; in contrast, no fungus was isolated from the control, which confirmed Koch's postulates. To our knowledge, this is the first report of leaf disease on walnut caused by C. fioriniae.
References: (1) L. Cai et al. Fungal Divers. 39:183, 2009. (2) R. G. Shivas and Y. P. Tan. Fungal Divers. 39:111, 2009.