In August 2019, the Ohio State University Vegetable Pathology laboratory received multiple bell and banana pepper fruits (Capsicum annuum, cvs. unknown) from Columbiana County, Ohio. The grower reported a disease incidence of 100% and severity of 70% in fruits across their pepper fields. Fruit lesions were brown, sunken, and covered with orange-colored sporulation. On banana peppers, the lesions mainly affected the blossom end of the fruits, while the lesions were distributed randomly on bell pepper fruits. Pieces of diseased tissue were cut from the fruit and surface sterilized in 0.5-0.6 % sodium hypochlorite, rinsed in sterile water, blotted dry, and placed on potato dextrose agar. All of the fungal cultures recovered were cottony, pale gray-green with shades of orange on the underside of the mycelial mat. Two representative isolates, SM209-19 (bell pepper) and SM210-19 (banana pepper), were grown on oatmeal agar to induce sporulation. Pink-orange concentric rings containing acervuli and conidia were present on the oatmeal agar plates after one week of growth at 22◦C (12-h dark/light). Conidia (n=29) were hyaline, aseptate, cylindrical in shape, and had an average length of 10.5 µm (std. dev. = 1.3 µm) and width of 4.1 µm (std. dev. = 0.6 µm) (Fig.1). DNA was extracted from both isolates using a DNeasy Plant Kit (Qiagen Inc, Germantown, MD), and partial sequences of the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region, -tubulin 2 gene (TUB2), and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene (GDPH) were amplified by PCR with the following primers: ITS4/ITS5 (White et al. 1990), Bt1a/Bt1b (Glass et al. 1995), and GDF1/GDR1 (Guerber et al. 2003), and squenced. The ITS region of both isolates SM209-19 and SM210-19 (PP280815 and PP280816, respectively) showed 100% identity with C. scovillei (Cs) isolate LJTJ35 (KP748226). The partial sequences of GDPH, (PP320348, PP320349, respectively) showed 99% sequence identity with the Cs CBS 126528 (JQ948597) and 100% identity with Cs HP1 (MT826948) The partial sequences of TUB2 (PP472464 and PP472465, respectively) had 100% sequence similarity with the Cs HP1 and Cs CBS 126528 (MT826951, JQ949918 respectively). Pathogenicity was tested in a greenhouse experiment on blossoming bell pepper plants (cv. Carmen) by spraying 10 ml of 1 X 105 conidia/ml suspension onto flower blooms (nine plants per isolate). Control pepper plants were mock inoculated by spraying 10 mL of sterile deionized water. The plants were re-inoculated one week later. Brown, sunken lesions with orange sporulation developed on the fruits of inoculated plants 21 days after the initial inoculation (Fig. 2), while the mock-inoculated plants did not produce any symptoms. Culturing from symptomatic fruits on PDA, following the same method described above, produced fungal colonies with the same morphological traits previously described. C. scovillei causing anthracnose on pepper has been described in the US (Toporek et al. 2021), Brazil (Caires et al. 2014), China (Zhao et al. 2016), and different South Asia Countries (Khalimi et al. 2019). Open-field peppers are produced in Ohio on more than 5,400 acres, with a value of more than $53 million, with anthracnose being one of the most severe fungal diseases reducing yield. This newly reported Colletotichum species could represent a further threat for this crop. Further studies evaluating fungicide sensitivity and efficacy against this pathogen will be of crucial importance for disease management.

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