A new disease recently was discovered in begonia elatior hybrid (Begonia x hiemalis) nurseries in The Netherlands. Diseased plants showed a combination of basal rot, vein yellowing and wilting and the base of collapsing plants was covered by unusually large masses of Fusarium macroconidia. A species of Fusarium was isolated consistently from the discolored veins of leaves and stems. It differed morphologically from F. begoniae, a known agent of begonia flower, leaf and stem blight. The Fusarium species resembled members of the F. oxysporum species complex in producing short monophialides on the aerial mycelium and abundant chlamydospores. Other phenotypic characters such as polyphialides formed occasionally in at least some strains, relatively long monophialides intermingled with the short monophialides formed on the aerial mycelium, distinct sporodochial conidiomata, and distinct pungent colony odor distinguished it from the F. oxysporum species complex. Phylogenetic analyses of partial sequences of the mitochondrial small subunit of the ribosomal DNA (mtSSU rDNA), nuclear translation elongation factor 1α (EF-1α) and β-tubulin gene exons and introns indicate that the Fusarium species represents a sister group of the F. oxysporum species complex. Begonia x hiemalis cultivars Bazan, Bellona and Netja Dark proved to be highly susceptible to the new species. Inoculated plants developed tracheomycosis within 4 wk, and most died within 8 wk. The new taxon was not pathogenic to Euphorbia pulcherrima, Impatiens walleriana and Saintpaulia ionantha that commonly are grown in nurseries along with B. x hiemalis. Inoculated plants of Cyclamen persicum did not develop the disease but had discolored vessels from which the inoculated fungus was isolated. Given that the newly discovered begonia pathogen is distinct in pathogenicity, morphology and phylogeny from other fusaria, it is described here as a new species, Fusarium foetens.
- Fusarium begoniae
- Gibberella fujikuroi species complex
- Mitochondrial small-subunit ribosomal DNA
- Translation elongation factor 1α
- β-tubulin gene