First Report of Wet Rot of Withania somnifera Caused by Choanephora cucurbitarum in India
Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) is native to India and commercially cultivated for the production of root withanolides that have anticarcinogenic properties. A disease appeared on plantings of W. somnifera during the 2010 monsoon at the CIMAP and in adjoining areas of northern India. Symptoms first appeared as water-soaked lesions on leaves and stems that progressed to a wet rot. Mature lesions harbored black fructifications of the suspect pathogen. Pathogen isolations were done by placing pieces of infected tissues on potato dextrose agar. A fungus tentatively identified as a Choanephora sp. that produced white aerial mycelia that later turned pale yellow was consistently isolated from infected plant parts. Mycelia were hyaline and nonseptate. Sporangiophores bearing sporangiola were erect, hyaline, unbranched, apically dilated to form a clavate vesicle from which arose dichotomously branched distally clavate secondary vesicles. Sporangiola were indehiscent, ellipsoid, brown to dark brown with distinct ...