Verbena bonariensis L., named as purple-top vervain or Argentinian vervain, is native to tropical South America. It is cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant. During summer and autumn of 2020, over 50% of the leaves of V. bonariensis were found infected with powdery mildew in a flower garden in Seoul (37°35'19"N 127°01'07"E), Korea. White, superficial mycelia developed initially on the leaves and subsequently covered surfaces of leaves and stems, are resulting in leaf discoloration, early defoliation, and shoots distortion. Heavily infected plants lost ornamental value. A representative voucher specimen was deposited in the Korea University herbarium (KUS-F32168). Morphological characterization and measurements of conidiophores and conidia were carried out using fresh samples. Microscopic observation showed that aAppressoria on the superficial hypha were nipple-shaped, but rarely found or nearly absent. Conidiophores (n = 30) were cylindrical, 110 to 220 × 10 to 12 µm, and produced 2 to 5 immature conidia in chains with a sinuate outline, followed by 2 to 3 short cells. Foot-cells of conidiophores were straight, cylindrical, and 46 to 90 μm long. Conidia (n = 30) were hyaline, ellipsoid to doliiform, 28 to 40 × 18 to 24 μm with a length/width ratio of 1.3 to 2.0, and contained small be like oil-like drops, but without distinct fibrosin bodies. Primary conidia were apically rounded and sub-truncate at the base. Germ tubes were produced at perihilar position of the conidia. Chasmothecia were not observed. These morphological characteristics were typical of the conidial stage of the genus Golovinomyces (Braun and Cook 2012, Qiu et al. 2020). To identify the fungus, rDNA was extracted from the voucher sample. PCR products were amplified using the primer pair ITS1F/PM6 for internal transcribed spacer (ITS), and PM3/TW14 for the large subunit (LSU) of the rDNA (Takamatsu and Kano 2001). The resulting sequences were registered to GenBank (MW599742 for ITS, and MW599743 for LSU). Using Blast'n search of GenBank, sequences showed 100% identity for ITS and LSU with G. ambrosiae (MT355557, KX987303, MH078047 for ITS, and AB769427, AB769426 for LSU), respectively. Thus, based on morphology and molecular analysis, the isolate on V. bonariensis in Korea was identified as G. ambrosiae (Schwein.) U. Braun & R.T.A. Cook. Pathogenicity tests were carried out by touching an infected leaf onto healthy leaves of disease-free pot-grown plants using a replication of five plants, with five non-inoculated plants used as controls. After 7 days, typical powdery mildew colonies started to appear on the inoculated leaves. The fungus on inoculated leaves was morphologically identical to that originally observed in the field. All non-inoculated control leaves remained symptomless. On different global Verbena species, tThere have been many reports of Golovinomyces powdery mildews including G. cichoracearum s.lat., G. longipes, G. monardae, G. orontii s.lat., and G. verbenae (Farr and Rossman 2021). In China, G. verbenae was recorded on V.erbena phlogiflora (Liu et al. 2006). Golovinomyces powdery mildew has not been reported on Verbena spp. in Korea. Powdery mildew has been reported on V. bonariensis in California, but identity of the causal agent had not been reported. To our knowledge, this is the first report on the identity of the powdery mildew caused by G. ambrosiae on V. bonariensis in Korea. Since heavily infected plants lost ornamental value, appropriate control measures should be developed.

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