|Abstract in English:|
Bird of paradise, also known as crane flower (Strelitzia reginae Aiton), is a monocotyledonous flowering plant indigenous to South Africa. It is commonly grown and commercialized as an ornamental plant and it is appreciated for its beautiful flowers. In October of 2008, dark leaf spots and leaf blight associated with a severe root and foot rot were observed on several plants of S. reginae grown in a private garden located in Fiumicino, Italy. Small fragments of tissues (approximately 3 mm) collected from the base of leaves and roots and the margins of brown lesions, previously surface disinfected with 0.5% NaOCl, were plated onto potato dextrose agar (PDA) and incubated at 22°C in the dark. White, web-like, slow-growing colonies with coenocytic mycelium and hyphal swellings consistently developed from all plated tissue samples. Sporangia were ovoid or ellipsoid with prominent papillae (including some bipapillate) and frequently caducous with a short stalk. The dimensions of sporangia were 27 to 64 × 23 to 45 ?m (average 43 × 35 ?m). Chlamydospores were terminal or intercalary and approximately 30 ?m in diameter. Isolates were considered heterothallic because they did not produce gametangia in vitro or in planta. On the basis of morphological features, isolates were identified as Phytophthora nicotianae (Breda de Haan). The identity was confirmed by internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequence comparison in NCBI database with 99% identity with sequences available in GenBank (e.g., EU331089) and with cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (Cox I) with 99% identity with AY564196 by Kroon et al. (2). The sequences of one isolate, AB177, were deposited in GenBank (Accession Nos. FN430681 and FN552051 for ITS and Cox I, respectively). Pathogenicity tests were conducted in the greenhouse on leaves of a 1-year-old potted S. reginae plant by placing 5-mm-diameter mycelial plugs, cut from the margins of 10-day-old actively growing cultures, with mycelium in contact with plant tissues gently wounded with a needle. Controls were treated as described above, except that PDA sterile plugs were used. Plants were misted with water and placed in sealed plastic bags for 48 h. After 10 days, artificially wounded strelitzia leaves showed lesions (approximately 1 cm long). Controls remained symptomless. All inoculated leaves showed the same leaf symptoms as observed on naturally diseased plants. The pathogen was consistently reisolated from lesions. P. nicotianae has been reported as the causal agent of leaf blight and stem, collar, and root rot on several plants (1). It has been reported as an agent of Phytophthora blight on strelitzia in Japan (3). To our knowledge, this is the first report of P. nicotianae on strelitzia in Italy.