Phytopythium litorale: A novel killer pathogen of plane (Platanus orientalis) causing canker stain and root and collar rot
Serçe, Çiğdem Ulubaş
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Decline symptoms associated with lethal stem and branch canker stain along with root and collar rots were observed on 5- to 7-year-old roadside oriental plane trees (Platanus orientalis) in Diyarbakır, Turkey. Above-ground symptoms included leaf necrosis, leaf curling, extensive bluish or blackish staining of shoots, branches, stem bark, and wood surfaces, as well as stem cankers and exfoliation of branch bark scales. A general decline of the trees was distinctly visible from a distance. A Phytophthora/ Pythium-like oomycete species with globose to ovoid, often papillate and internally proliferating sporangia was consistently isolated from the fine and coarse roots and stained branch parts and shoots. The pathogen was identified as Phytopythium litorale based on several morphological features. Partial DNA sequences of three loci, including nuclear rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and the large ribosomal subunit (LSU), and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit II (coxII) confirmed the morphological identification. All P. litorale isolates were homothallic, developing gametangia, ornamented oogonia with elongate to lobate antheridia. Pathogenicity of P. litorale was tested by inoculation on excised shoots and by root inoculation on seedlings. P. litorale produced large lesions and blights on shoots in just 5 days and killed 100% of the seedlings in a month. This paper presents the first confirmed report of P. litorale as an important pathogen on a plant species causing branch and stem cankers, and root and collar rot, in and on P. orientalis, resulting in a rapid decline of trees and suggesting a threat to plane.