Dragon Fruit Info
AN OVERVIEW OF FUNGAL DISEASES OF PITAYA IN MALAYSIA
Management of Pests and Diseases
Masratul Hawa Mohd, Baharuddin Salleh, Latiffah Zakaria
Dragon fruit (Hylocereus species) is a group of tropical epiphytic cacti and is also known as pitaya or pitahaya. Practically unknown 15 years ago, today pitaya occupies almost all exotic fruit markets worldwide including Malaysia. Pitaya is considered as a promising fruit species and cultivated on different scales in different parts of the world which attributed by the fruit qualities and characteristics (attractive colours and shape), nutritional values and health benefits. The suitability of tropical climate, rainfall requirements, light intensity and soil types may contribute to the successful cultivation of this exotic fruit in Malaysia. However, like many other fruit crops, pitaya in Malaysia was seriously infected with several complex diseases caused by fungi. The diseases were anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and C. truncatum, stem necrosis by Curvularia lunata, stem canker by Neoscytalidium dimidiatum and stem rot by Fusarium proliferatum. Until to date, there is no comprehensive review is available on the fungal diseases of pitaya in Malaysia. Therefore, the present review gives inclusive information regarding various aspects on symptomology, pathogenicity and morphological and molecular identification of the causal pathogens. This review, thereby providing some information for promoting further studies on plant protection of the pitaya species.
Hylocereus, fungal diseases, etiological studies
Pitaya (Hylocereus species) originated from North, Central and South America (Britton and Rose 1963; Barbeau 1990); today, this crop is cultivated all over the world, including in the tropical and subtropical regions. This fruit has drawn much attention worldwide, not only because of its attractive red colour and economic value as food products, but also for its antioxidative activity (Wybraniec and Mizrahi 2002). Pitaya, rich in micronutrients, has generated a great deal of consumer interest and being popularized as a healthy fruit (Wu et al. 2005). In Malaysia, pitaya had been initially planted on large scale at the end of 1990s by Golden Hope Company at Sungai Wangi Estate, Perak. Until 2011, Malaysia has around 1200 ha growing areas of pitaya (Zainudin 2011). Pitaya is now being cultivated almost in all states of Malaysia including Sabah and Sarawak.
With an increase on areas planted with pitaya, the disease incidence has also increased. Pitaya in Malaysia was reported to be seriously infected with several economically important diseases caused by fungi including anthracnose (Masratul Hawa et al. 2008; Masyahit et al. 2009; Suzianti et al. 2014), stem necrosis (Masratul Hawa et al. 2009), stem canker (Masratul Hawa et al. 2013b), and stem rot (Masratul Hawa et al. 2013a).
In this paper, a review on the fungal diseases of pitaya in Malaysia is described with reference to disease symptoms, pathogenicity and morphological and molecular identification of the causal pathogens.
Anthracnose has been considered as the most common disease of pitaya in Malaysia and causes huge losses in quality of the fruits, thus rendering large quantity of pitaya fruits unfit for consumption. It has been found that at least two species of Colletotrichum were involved namely C. gloeosporioides and C. truncatum (Masratul Hawa et al. 2008; Masyahit et al. 2009; Suzianti et al. 2014). However, both species produced similar symptom, which was reddish-brown lesions with chlorotic haloes symptoms (Figure 1A, 1B and 1F). Masyahit et al. (2009) reported that the inoculated fruit became completely decaying on seventh day after inoculation, while the stem got severely rotting on tenth day after inoculation. Reports from other crop have shown that conidia from infected plants and plant residues can become sources of inoculum of Colletotrichum species infection once favourable conditions for infection occur (Buchwaldt et al. 1996).
Morphological characteristics of C. gloeosporioides were characterized as whitish and grayish with blackish or orange masses of conidia in concentric rings, the conidia were straight, cylindrical to slightly curve and hyaline (Figure 1C-1E) (Masratul Hawa et al. 2008). Colletotrichum truncatum produced white to greenish grey colony with white to dark grey pigmentation, salmon-coloured conidial masses; the conidia were falcate with acute apex and narrow truncate base, setae were abundant with swollen base and tapered apex and appressoria were dark brown, spherical to ovate 8–11 µm x 6–8 µm (Figure 1G-1J) (Suzianti et al. 2014).
Figure 1. Symptom of anthracnose and morphological characteristics of C. gloeosporioides and C. truncatum: A) Brown lesion on pitaya stem caused by C. gloeosporioides; B) Brown lesion on pitaya fruit caused by C. gloeosporioides (Masyahit et al. 2009); C, D) Colony appearance and pigmentation of C. gloeosporioides; E) Straight, cylindrical to slightly curve and hyaline conidia of C. gloeosporioides; F) Brown lesion on pitaya stem caused by C. truncatum; G, H) Colony appearance and pigmentation of C. truncatum; and J) Falcate with acute apex and narrow truncate base conidia of C. truncatum (Suzianti et al. 2014).
Besides using morphological characteristics, Suzianti et al. (2014) reported that species identity of C. truncatum were further confirmed using several genes such as internal transcribed spacer regions (ITS), β-tubulin, actin (ACT) and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH). Based on BLAST results of ITS regions, β-tubulin, ACT and GAPDH sequences, the percentage of similarity ranging from 98 to 100% with C. truncatum epitype strain sequence and therefore confirmed the species identity of C. truncatum as the causal pathogen of anthracnose on pitaya.
In 2009, Masratul Hawa et al. (2009) reported the occurrence of stem necrosis in most of pitaya plantations in Malaysia (in the states of Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, and Perak) with 41% disease incidence and 25% disease severity. The disease symptom was observed as spots or small, circular, faint pink-to-beige necrotic lesions that generally coalesced as symptoms progressed (Figure 2A-2C).
A fungus was consistently isolated from the stems of symptomatic Hylocereus polyrhizus and identified as C. lunata. Curvularia lunata showed grey colony and black on the backside (Figure 2D and 2E), produced pale brown multicelled conidia (phragmoconidia; three to five celled) that formed apically through a pore (poroconidia) in sympodially, elongating, geniculated conidiophores. The conidia were relatively fusiform, cylindrical or slightly curved, with one of the central cells being larger and darker (26.15 ± 0.05 μm) (Figure 2F and 2G) (Masratul Hawa et al. 2009). Curvularia lunata was identified based on morphological description by (Ellis 1971).
Figure 2. Symptom of stem necrosis and morphological characteristics of C.lunata: A, B, C) Beige and pink necrotic lesions; D, E) Colony appearance and pigmentation and F, G) Fusiform, cylindrical or slightly curved conidia of C. lunata with one of the central cells being larger and darker.
Based on pathogenicity test using injecting conidial suspension (1 x 106 conidia/ml) and pricking of colonized toothpicks showed that all tested isolates of C. lunata were pathogenic towards H. polyrhizus while the control plants were remained healthy.
Curvularia lunata was reisolated from 88% of the inoculated stems, thus completing the Koch's postulates (Masratul Hawa et al. 2009).
Stem canker was considered as the most destructive disease on pitaya in Malaysia and has been first reported by Masratul Hawa et al. (2013b). It was found that the causal agent of stem canker was N. dimidiatum. The initial symptoms of stem canker were brown sunken lesion and the lesion became dark brown with age. Orange spot and black pycnidia were formed on the surface of the canker. As the disease progressed, the infected stem subsequently rotted (Figure 3A-3C) (Masratul Hawa et al. 2013b).
The causal pathogen of stem canker was described as effuse, hairy or woolly colony and olive green to greyish colony with dark-grey to black pigmentation on PDA (Figure 3D and 3E). Meanwhile, on MEA, this fungus showed white to olive green colony with pigmentation of olive green to ochraceous yellow. Neoscytalidium dimidiatum grows rapidly and colonized the plate within 3 days. The growth rate was 3.00 cm/day on both PDA and MEA. Conidiogenous cells (pycnidial anamorph) were characterized as hyaline and intermingled with paraphyses. Conidia were ellipsoid to ovoid, rod shaped or round shaped, hyaline with an acutely rounded apex, truncate base, initially aseptate, becoming brown and 2-septate at maturity, 10.99 ± 0.35 x 5.02 ± 0.44 µm, with the central cell darker than the end cells. For mycelium anamorph, the hyphae were branched, septate, brown and disarticulated into 0- to 1-septate arthrospores (Figure 3F and 3G) (Masratul Hawa et al. 2013b). The morphological characteristics shown by the N. dimidiatum fit with the descriptions of Crous et al. (2006).
Figure 3. Symptom of stem canker and morphological characteristics of N. dimidiatum: A, B, C) Sunken lesion with black pycnidia and rotted stem; D, E) Colony appearance and pigmentation; F, G) Straight, cylindrical to slightly curve and hyaline conidia; F) Conidia were ellipsoid to ovoid, rod shaped or round shaped and G) Contiguous arthroconidia.
Based on DNA sequences of ITS regions, all isolates showed 99% similarity with Neoscytalidium dimidiatum (FJ648577) and further confirmed the species identity of the causal pathogen of pitaya stem canker in Malaysia. Besides pitaya, N. dimidiatum has been reported to cause canker disease on Citrus sinensis (Polizzi et al. 2009), Mangifera indica (Sakalidis et al. 2011) and Hylocereus undatus and H. polyrhizus in Taiwan (Chuang et al. 2012). It has a wide geographical locations and host range.
Stem rot disease was detected in H. polyrhizus plantations in Malaysia, with symptom appeared as circular, brown sunken lesion with orange sporodochia and white mycelium formation on the lesion surface (Figure 4A-4C). Isolation from infected stem lesion showed that a total of 83 isolates of Fusarium were isolated from 20 plantations and were morphologically identified as F. proliferatum based on the variability of colony appearance, pigmentation, growth rate, length of chains, production of bluish sclerotia, concentric ring aerial mycelium and sporodochia (Masratul Hawa et al. 2013a).
The causal pathogen of stem rot produced dense-cottony, whitish aerial mycelium and purplish pigments (Figure 4D and 4E). Macroconidia produced by F. proliferatum were characterized as rare to abundant, slender, almost straight, curved apical cell, foot- shaped basal cell, 19.5–50.5 x 2.5–4.5 μm and 3–5 septa (Figure 4F). The microconidia were club-shaped with a flattened base, 3.5–15.5 x 1.55–6.2 μm, no septa (Figure 4G), formed in short chain (1–5 conidia/chain) or moderate chain (6–10 conidia/chain), in false head or abundant in the aerial mycelium. The conidiogenous cells were monophialide and polyphialide. Some isolates produced orange sporodochia on carnation leaves and chlamydospore was not formed. On the basis of the descriptions in the Fusarium Laboratory Manual (Leslie and Summerell 2006), all isolates from stem rot of H. polyrhizus were identified as F. proliferatum.
Figure 4. Symptom of stem rot and morphological characteristics of F. proliferatum: A, B, C) Brown sunken lesions and rotted stem; D, E) Colony appearance and pigmentation; F) Slender, almost straight, curved apical cell, foot-shaped basal cell, and 3–5 septa macroconidia and G) Club-shaped with a flattened base and no septa microconidia.
Besides morphological characteristics, determination of causing agent was performed under the basis of comparisons of translation elongation factor 1-alpha (TEF1-α) sequences (O’Donnell et al. 1998). Three species-specific primers, namely ITS1/proITS- R (White et al. 1990; Visentin et al., 2009), PRO1/2 (Mule et al. 2004) and Fp3-F/4-R (Jurado et al. 2006) successfully produced PCR products and confirmed that the isolates from stem rot of H. polyrhizus were F. proliferatum isolates.
As a conclusion, pitaya in Malaysia was seriously infected with several economically important diseases namely anthracnose, stem necrosis, stem canker and stem rot that caused by different plant pathogenic fungi such as C. gloeosporioides, C. truncatum, C. lunata, N. dimidiatum and F. proliferatum. This review may help the future researchers especially in Malaysia as well as worldwide to devise an effective strategy for evaluating different pathological aspects of pitaya. Besides, information in this review can be used for quarantine purposes and to formulate an effective disease control management of pitaya. Further study is needed to reveal all the other recent diseases that infect pitaya by using integration of morphological and molecular tools such as ribosome and nuclear gene sequencing and RT-PCR to ensure the quality and continuous production of pitaya.
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