Anthracnose or ripe rot of blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) is caused predominantly by Colletotrichum fioriniae, which belongs to the C. acutatum complex since it has cylindrical conidia with both ends acute (2). In May 2013, an isolate typical of the C. boninense complex (cylindrical conidia with both ends rounded) (1) was obtained from leaves of southern highbush blueberry seedlings in a nursery located in the municipality of Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The symptoms initially appear as circular, necrotic lesions 10 to 30 mm in diameter. At high humidity, lesions expand rapidly to cover the entire foliar surface, leading to severe defoliation of the seedlings. This disease occurred in 100% of the seedlings, causing serious losses in the nursery. A single-conidium culture was obtained on potato-dextrose-agar (PDA) medium followed by morphological and molecular characterization. This culture was deposited at the culture collection of the Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil (Accession No. COAD 1741). Conidia were cylindrical, aseptate, hyaline, rounded at both ends, and 11 to 16 μm (μ = 13) long and 5 to 6 μm (μ = 5.5) wide (n = 100). For the molecular characterization, sequences of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and β-tubulin 2 (βt) regions were obtained and deposited in GenBank (KM055653 to KM055655). A search of the Q-bank Fungi database using the ITS, βt, and GAPDH sequences retrieved C. karstii with 100, 99, and 100% identities, respectively. Based on morphological and molecular data, the fungus was identified as C. karstii. To verify pathogenicity, 20 leaves from the upper branches of 1-m tall blueberry seedlings were inoculated with 6-mm-diameter plugs from a 7-day-old culture. PDA plugs were placed on the leaves of seedlings to serve as the control. Initially, seedlings were maintained at 25 ± 2°C in the dark. Thereafter, seedlings were covered with plastic bags and transferred to a greenhouse. Anthracnose symptoms on the leaves were observed at 5 days after inoculation. Seedlings from the control treatment remained symptomless. The fungus was re-isolated from the necrotic lesions, confirming Koch's postulates. C. karstii has a wide host range and in Brazil has been previously reported on Bombax aquaticum, Carica papaya, Eugenia uniflora, Malus domestica, and Mangifera indica (1,3,4). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of C. karstii causing anthracnose on the leaves of blueberry seedlings in Brazil or worldwide. Due to the high disease severity and intense defoliation of blueberry seedlings, this pathogen represents a new threat for nurseries. Therefore, control strategies should be investigated for this disease.
References: (1) U. Damm et al. Stud. Mycol. 73:1, 2012. (2) U. Damm et al. Stud. Mycol. 73:37, 2012. (3) Lima et al. Plant Dis. 97:1248, 2014. (4) Velho et al. Plant Dis. 98:157, 2014.