- Author: Joey Mayorquin, Mohamed Nouris, Akif Eskalen and Florent Trouillas
Figure 1: Citrus shoot dieback (top) and gummosis (bottom) caused by Colletrotrichum.
A new disease of citrus has been found in the main growing regions of the Central Valley of California. The causal agents of this disease were identified as species of Colletotrichum, which are well-known pathogens of citrus and other crops causing anthracnose diseases. Several growers and nurserymen in various orchards in the Central Valley first noticed the disease in 2013. Symptoms include leaf chlorosis, crown thinning, gumming on twigs and shoots dieback, and in severe cases, death of young trees. The most characteristic symptoms of this disease are the gum pockets, which appear on young shoots either alone or in clusters and the dieback of twigs and shoots (Fig.1). Field observations indicate that symptoms initially appear during the early summer months and continue to express until the early fall. These symptoms were primarily reported from clementine, mandarin, and navel orange varieties. In order to determine the main cause of this disease, field surveys were conducted in several orchards throughout the Central Valley. Isolations from symptomatic plant samples frequently yielded Colletotrichum species. Morphological and molecular phylogenetic studies allowed the identification of two distinct species of Colletotrichum (Colletotrichum karstii and Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) associated with twig and shoot dieback. Interestingly, these Colletotrichum species were also isolated from cankers in larger branches. Although C. gloeosporioides is known to cause anthracnose on citrus, a post-harvest disease causing fruit decay, it has not been reported to cause shoot dieback of citrus. C. karstii however has not been reported previously from citrus in California and our research team is currently conducting field and green house studies to determine the pathogenicity of this species in citrus. At present, it is unclear how widespread this disease is in California orchards or how many citrus varieties are susceptible to this disease. Pest control advisors are monitoring citrus trees for the presence of the disease in the Central Valley (particularly clementine, mandarin, and navel varieties) during the early summer months. Continuing research led by Dr. Akif Eskalen in collaboration with Dr. Florent Trouillas is focused on further understanding the biology of the fungal pathogens as well as factors influencing disease expression in order to develop management strategies against this emerging disease.
- Author: Sonia Rios
In the fall of 2016 growers in the Coachella desert have been experience very puzzling symptoms on their grapefruit trees. One incident, symptoms the tree had gumming oozing from the branches (Fig. 1). Usually if it were oozing from the stump it would be a root disease such as Phytophthora spp. After photos and branch samples were taken to the Plant Pathologist at University of California, Riverside, Dr. Akif Eskelan, results determined that the trees had branch canker and Hendersonula Disease.
Infection by Nattrassia mangiferae (Hendersonula toruloidea) causes bark cracking and peeling or dead bark that remains tightly attached to dead limbs. Black, sooty growth may develop beneath infected bark. Brownish moist areas appear on limbs during the first stages of disease, then the bark in these areas cracks or peels away revealing black masses of fungal spores (Fig 4.). In advance stages, the injured limbs may “bleed” profusely, oozing a sap like sticky
Trees weakened by a disease, water stress, nutritional deficiencies, excessive pruning/mechanical damage create a are more susceptible. As many of these stressors can cause a tree to get sunburned and creates wounds that can serve as infection sites for this pathogen. Prevent sunburn by maintaining vigorous canopies through best management practices http://fruitandnuteducation.ucdavis.edu/generaltopics/ . Proper irrigation, fertilization, pruning, and pest control. Look for symptoms annually right after harvest while there are still healthy leaves on trees. Remove diseased limbs, cutting back to a lateral branch into healthy wood that shows no discoloration. Burn all infested wood, do not chip and use infected wood as mulch.
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- Author: Ben Faber
When you see dieback in an avocado it could be due to several reasons, and here are three very common causes of dieback, one of which has been especially common when there is little rain. The first major cause of dieback is an overgrown tree where there is no light that penetrates into the canopy. Branches with leaves in a darkened interior will naturally shut down and dieback, leaving these twiggy dried out branches. This is a natural process whereby the tree just gets rid of leaves that are not performing.
Another cause of dieback is our old friend Avocado Root Rot, Phytophthora cinnamomi. This causes dieback, also called “stag horning” because of the dead branches standing out from the surrounding canopy. This is normally accompanied by a thinning canopy with smaller, yellow leaves and a lack of leaf litter because of lack of energy. It's also hard to find roots and if they are found, they are black at the tips and brittle.
The third major cause of dieback is a result of water stress. This shows up with low water pressure, at the top of the hill where the most wind occurs, where a sprinkler gets clogged, when the irrigation schedule is not meeting tree's needs or when there is not adequate rainfall to get sufficient leaching. And after four years of drought, this is very common. This appears as dead spots in the canopy, a branch here and there where the leaves have died and are still hanging. It's been called “salt and pepper” syndrome, because it can have a few branches here and there that have died back while the rest of the canopy is normal, the leaves are normally sized and green. In young trees, in severe cases, the fungus that causes this blight can work its way down to the graft union and kill the tree. In mature trees, it just causes an unthrifty look to the tree. Although we have always seen this problem in avocado orchards, this has become a very common affliction in orchards these last few years
1) Lack of light dieback
2) Phytophthora cinnamomi dieback
3) Stem and Leaf Blight
- Author: Akif Eskalen and Virginia McDonald
Branch and trunk canker on avocado was formerly attributed to Dothiorella gregaria, hence the name Dothiorella canker. So far Botryopshaeria dothidea (anamorph: Fusicoccum aesculi) is the only known species causing Dothiorella canker on avocado in California. Symptoms observed on avocado with Dothiorella canker include shoot blight and dieback, leaf scorch, fruit rot, and cankers on branches and bark.
However, recent studies based on DNA analyses suggest greater species diversity of this pathogen group than based on morphological characteristics alone. Thus far, multiple species of Botryosphaeriaceae have been found to cause the typical Dothiorella canker (Fig3.) and stem-end rot (Fig 5) on avocado in California. Percent recovery of Botryosphaeria spp. based on morphological characters ranged from 40-100% in Riverside county, 42-53% in Ventura county, 33% in Santa Barbara county, 60% in San Diego county and 32-60% in San Luis Obispo county.
According to preliminary results from a continuing survey throughout avocado growing areas of California, multiple species of Botryosphaeria (Neofusicoccum australe, B. dothidea, N. luteum, and N. parvum) were found.
Pycnidia (overwintering structure) of Botryosphaeriaceae species were also observed on old diseased avocado tree branches. Sequenced rDNA fragments (ITS1, 5.8S rDNA, ITS2, amplified with ITS4 and ITS5 primers) were compared with sequences deposited in GenBank.
Pathogenicity tests were conducted in the greenhouse on 1-year-old avocado seedlings, Hass cv., with one randomly chosen isolate from each of the Botryosphaeriaceae species noted above. Four replicate seedlings were stem-wound inoculated with a mycelial plug and covered with Parafilm. Sterile PDA plugs were applied to four seedlings as a control. Over a period of 6 months, seedlings were assessed for disease symptoms that included browning of leaf edges and shoot dieback. Mean vascular lesion lengths on stems were 64, 66, 64, and 18 mm for B. dothidea, N. parvum, N. luteum, and N. australe, respectively. Each fungal isolate was consistently reisolated from inoculated seedlings, thus completing the pathogenicity test. To our knowledge, this is the first report of N. australe, N. luteum, and N. parvum recovered from branch cankers on avocado in California.
These results are significant because Botryosphaeriaceae canker pathogens are known to enter the host plant through fresh wounds (pruning, frost, and mechanical). With high-density planting becoming more common, which requires intensive pruning, the transmission rate of these pathogens could increase in California avocado groves. The Eskalen laboratory is currently investigating control measures for dothiorella canker and stem-end rot pathogens.
Branch dieback and trunk canker caused by the fungus