Characterization and epidemiology of Colletotrichum acutatum sensu lato (C. chrysanthemi) causing Carthamus tinctorius anthracnose



In 2012, Colletotrichum isolates were collected from field-grown safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) crops in central Italy from plants exhibiting typical anthracnose symptoms. Colletotrichum isolates were also collected from seed surfaces and from within seeds. The genetic variability of these isolates was assessed by a multilocus sequencing approach and compared with those from Colletotrichum chrysanthemi and Colletotrichum carthami isolates from different geographic areas and other Colletotrichum acutatum sensu lato-related isolates. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that all of the strains isolated from C. tinctorius belonged to the species described as C. chrysanthemi, whereas all of the strains belonging to C. carthami had been isolated from Calendula officinalis. Phenotypic characterization of isolates was performed by assessing growth rates at different temperatures, morphology of colonies on potato dextrose agar (PDA) and the size of conidia. All C. chrysanthemi isolates from safflower had similar growth rates at different temperatures, comparable colony morphologies when grown on PDA and conidial sizes consistent with previously described C. chrysanthemi isolates. Pathogenicity tests were performed by artificially inoculating both seeds and plants and confirmed the seedborne nature of this pathogen. When inoculated on plants, C. chrysanthemi caused the typical symptoms of anthracnose on leaves. This is the first record of this pathogen on C. tinctorius in Italy, and it presents an updated characterization of Colletotrichum isolates pathogenic to safflowers in Europe.