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, 87 (3), 315

First Report of Bremia Lactucae Causing Downy Mildew on Helichrysum Bracteatum in Italy


First Report of Bremia Lactucae Causing Downy Mildew on Helichrysum Bracteatum in Italy

A Garibaldi et al. Plant Dis.


Helichrysum bracteatum, also known as strawflower, is commonly grown for the production of dried flowers and, more recently, as a potted plant. This latter cultivation system is becoming increasingly important on the Liguria Coast in northern Italy. During the spring of 2002, severe oubreaks of a previously unknown disease were observed in commercial farms in the area of Albenga (northern Italy) on several cultivars of H. bracteatum. Leaves of infected plants appeared curled and blistered; the infected portions of leaves turned chlorotic. On the lower leaf surface of chlorotic areas, a dense, whitish growth was evident. Infected leaves eventually wilted without dropping. Basal leaves with poor air circulation were the most severely affected. Certain cultivars of H. bracteatum (such as 'Florabella Pink') were most seriously affected, while others ('Florabella Gold' and 'Florabella White') had less disease. Microscopic observations revealed sporangiophores emerging from the stomata that were dichotomically branched, ending with 4 to 7 sterigmata. The sporangia were globose and measured 15.5 to 16.8 μm in diameter. The pathogen was identified as Bremia lactucae based on the morphological characteristics. Pathogenicity was confirmed by inoculating healthy H. bracteatum (100-day-old 'Florabella Gold') as well as Lactuca sativa (25-day-old 'Salad bowl') plants with a sporangial suspension (1 × 105 sporangia/ml). Five plants of H. bracteatum and 10 of lettuce were used as replicates. Noninoculated plants served as controls. Inoculated and uninoculated plants were maintained in a growth chamber at 20°C and 90 to 95% relative humidity. After 7 to 10 days, typical symptoms of downy mildew developed on H. bracteatum and lettuce plants artificially inoculated. Bremia lactucae was observed on infected leaves. Uninoculated plants did not show symptoms. To our knowledge, this is the first report of Bremia lactucae on H. bracteatum in Italy. B lactucae was previously reported as the causal agent of downy mildew on H. bracteatum in several countries including the United Kingdom (3), the United States (1), and Egypt (2). References: (1) S. A. Alfieri et al. Index of plant diseases in Florida. Bull No. 11, 1984. (2) H. Elarosi and M. W. Assawah. Rev. Plant Prot. Res., 39:583, 1959. (3) W. C. Moore. British Parasitic Fungi. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1959.

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