The cut flower growers of the eastern and southern United States are threatened with postharvest meltdown of zinnia (Zinnia elegans), which reduces yield and income as well as limiting opportunities for production expansion. Disease symptoms such as bending of the stem just below the flower were visually apparent on zinnia cut flowers. The objective of this study was to identify the causal agent related to zinnia meltdown. A total of 20 symptomatic zinnia cut flower stems were collected from Tennessee. Several Fusarium-like colonies with micro and macroconidia were isolated from the base and bend area of stems on potato dextrose agar (PDA) and Fusarium-selective media. Morphological characterization, polymerase chain reaction, and sequencing of three representative isolates, FBG2020_198, FBG2020_199, and FBG2020_201, were conducted to confirm pathogen identification. The sequence identity of the isolates was >99% identical to Fusarium commune, and a combined phylogenetic tree grouped the isolates with the clade of F. commune from different host and geographical locations. To accomplish Koch’s postulates, a pathogenicity test was performed on ‘Benary’s Giant Golden Yellow’, ‘Benary’s Giant Lime’, and ‘Benary’s Giant Pink’ zinnia plants at vegetative (2 weeks after transplantation) or flower bud stage (1 month after transplantation) by drench, stem injection, and foliar spray of conidial suspension (1 × 105 conidia/mL). Similar symptoms of meltdown (floral axis bending just below the flower) were observed on inoculated zinnia cultivars 2 days after harvesting. Fusarium commune was re-isolated from the infected flower stems of all three cultivars but not from the noninoculated zinnia flower stems. Zinnia stem colonization by F. commune was statistically similar in all three tested cultivars regardless of plant growth stage and method of inoculation. This study confirms F. commune as being the causal agent of postharvest zinnia flower meltdown issue in Tennessee. In the future, possible sources of pathogen will be screened, and disease management recommendations will be developed.
Bika, R., & Baysal-Gurel, F. (2021). Identification of Fusarium commune, the Causal Agent of Postharvest Zinnia Meltdown Disease in Tennessee, HortTechnology hortte, 31(4), 432-438. Retrieved Sep 15, 2021, from https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/31/4/article-p432.xml