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First Records Of Powdery Mildew Fungi (Erysiphales) On Medicinal Plants In Taiwan

Yu-Wei Yeh, Pei-Yi Chou, Hsin-Yu Hou, Roland Kirschner

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Abstract Background Production of medicinal plants in Taiwan is not only hampered by international market competition, but also lack of knowledge of their pathogens, such as powdery mildew fungi (Erysiphales, Ascomycota). Records of these fungi in Taiwan originate from few researchers for the last one hundred years and are still incomplete. Since powdery mildews in tropical/subtropical environments rarely develop the sexual stages with morphologically diagnostic characteristics, internal transcribed spacer sequences (ITS) of the ribosomal RNA genes obtained from the asexual stages have become important modern tools for species identification. Results Powdery mildews on medicinal plants from educational and ornamental plantations in Taiwan were identified based on the anamorph morphology and ITS sequences. Four powdery mildews on medicinal plants are new records for Taiwan, Arthrocladiella mougeotii on Lycium chinense, Erysiphe glycines on Pueraria lobata, Erysiphe lespedezae on Bauhinia sp., Desmodium caudatum, and Uraria crinita, and E. lonicerae on Lonicera japonica. Eryngium foetidum is a new host for Erysiphe heraclei hitherto known on other host plants in Taiwan. Eryngium foetidum and Uraria crinita are new host plants for powdery mildews worldwide. Only specific field collection of the pathogens yielded the new records, not checking plant specimens in a phanerogam herbarium. The pathogens did not cause death of the host plants, but appeared to enhance stress by infection of mature leaves. Conclusions Taxonomic study of powdery mildews in Taiwan results into new host records of economically important medicinal plants in Taiwan with potential consequences for plant production and quarantine and also shows that host records are quite incomplete worldwide. Although ITS sequences were useful for species identification, the lack of data for several species on the same host genus on the one hand and the low variation between closely related species on the other indicate the need for further study.