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Phyton (Buenos Aires)

versión On-line ISSN 1851-5657

Phyton (B. Aires) vol.81 no.2 Vicente López jul./dic. 2012




First report of Botrytis cinerea on Lilium polyphyllum, a critically endangered herb in Uttarakhand, India

Primera cita de Botrytis cinerea sobre Lilium polyphyllum, especie en peligro de extinción en Uttarakhand, India


Dhyani A1, BP Nautiyal2, MC Nautiyal1, MC Rivera3, D Prasad4, KP Singh4

1 High Altitude Plant Physiology Research Centre, Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, India.
2 Department of Horticulture, Aromatic and Medicinal Plant, Mizoram University, Aizawl, India.
3 Phytopathology. School of Agriculture. University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
4 Plant Pathology Section, College of Forestry & Hill Agriculture, G. B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Ranichauri, India.
Address correspondence to: Anurag Dhyani. High Altitude Plant Physiology Research Centre, Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal, Pin- 246174, Uttarakhand, India. e-mail:

Recibido / Received 23.IX.2011.
Aceptado / Accepted 9.XI.2011.


Abstract. Lilium polyphyllum is a critically endangered herb in the wilds of Uttarakhand, India. Gray mold appeared as a new disease on this species from July to August (2008-2009) causing death of inflorescences and shoots. Botrytis cinerea was consistently isolated on PDA, from infected inflorescences. Pathogenicity was established by inoculation of potted plants of L. polyphyllum in a glasshouse. Botrytis cinerea was recorded as a gray mold pathogen on L. polyphyllum for the first time in India, causing flower and shoot blight. Tis disease may seriously afect reproductive stages of this endangered host. To our knowledge, B. cinerea had not been reported previously on L. polyphyllum.

Keywords: Lilium polyphyllum; Gray mold; Botrytis cinerea; First report; India.

Resumen. Lilium polyphyllum es una planta herbácea que se encuentra en estado de peligro en ambientes naturales de Uttarakhand, India. La enfermedad conocida como moho gris fue detectada sobre esta especie desde Julio a Agosto (2008-2009) causando muerte de inflorescencias y varas. Botrytis cinerea fue aislado consistentemente de inflorescencias. Su patogenicidad fue confirmada mediante inoculación de plantas de L. polyphyllum cultivadas en macetas en un invernáculo. Como resultado, se cita a Botrytis cinerea por primera vez como causante de moho gris sobre Lilium polyphyllum en India, cuyos síntomas son tizón de flores y varas. Esta enfermedad puede afectar seriamente a este hospedante en riesgo durante su estado reproductivo. A nuestro entender, no existe otro antecedente de B. cinerea sobre este hospedante.

Palabras clave: Lilium polyphyllum; Moho gris; Botrytis cinerea; Primera cita; India.



Te genus Lilium L. (Liliaceae) comprises approximately 100 species distributed throughout cold and temperate regions (Siljak-Yakovlev et al., 2003), 11 of which have been recorded in India (Hooker, 1990). Lilium polyphyllum D. Don ex Royle is a perennial, bulbous herb with a wide range of medicinal and ornamental uses (Dhyani et al., 2010). Tese plants are 30-90 cm high, with alternate leaves, and racemes of pendulous flowers of a creamy white color speckled with pink (Fig. 1a). It is distributed from North-West Himalaya to Westward of Afghanistan (Hooker, 1990; Gaur, 1999) in China, Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan, the Hunza Valley (which borders on Russia, Afghanistan, China, India) and Wanga Valley (in the North-Western Himalaya) (Dhyani, 2009). In India, it is found in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, at 1800-3600 m.a.s.l. Te bulb is used in traditional and modern medicine (Warrier et al., 1997; Dhyani et al., 2010). This species was categorized as critically endangered due to specific habitat requirements and fast decline caused by human intervention for medicinal, ornamental and fodder uses (Ved et al., 2003). In addition, forest fires and pests are also threatening its survival (Dhyani, 2007).

Fig. 1. Gray mold of Lilium polyphyllum caused by Botrytis cinerea, a. Healthy flower buds; b. Infected flower bud; c. Botrytis cinera grey mold; d. Detail of conidiophores and botryose conidia.
Fig. 1.
Moho gris causado por Botrytis cinerea sobre Lilium polyphyllum, a. Inflorescencia sana; b. Pimpollo infectado; c. Conidioforos y conidios de B. cinerea; d. Detalle de conidióforo y conidios.

A new disease was observed on L. polyphyllum plants in the temperate region of Garhwal Himalaya, Uttarakhand (Dhanaulti; 30° 25' N, 78° 19' E, 2200 m.a.s.l.) in 2008 and 2009. Petals showed circular necrotic spots that enlarged until the whole flowers became blighted and covered with a grey mold (Fig. 1b). Flower infections occasionally spread towards the base of the plants, leading to premature drying and death of entire shoots. Te disease appeared during May after the onset of the Monsoon. Incidence was 35-45% during the flowering period (June to middle of July) and became 50-60% (end of July to first week of August) for both years, respectively.


For pathogen isolation, small pieces from diseased flowers were sterilized by immersion in 0.01% mercuric chloride for 1 min, rinsed with sterile distilled water three times and cultivated on potato dextrose agar (PDA). Te pathogenicity of the obtained fungal isolate was evaluated by inoculating healthy L. polyphyllum plants. Inoculum was prepared from 10-day old PDA cultures by superficially scraping conidia from the surface of the colonies in a 0.1 M MgSO4 solution. Inflorescences of ten healthy potted plants (average two flowers/plant) were sprayed with a conidial suspension (1 × 107 conidia/mL). Flowering plants treated with 0.1 M MgSO4 served as controls. Both inoculated and control plants were kept in a humidity chamber for 48-72 h and then transferred to a glasshouse bench and monitored for symptom development. The inoculated fungus was re-isolated from symptomatic flowers by surface disinfection and growth on PDA as previously described. Te cultural and morphological characteristics of the isolate were registered to identify the pathogen to the species level.


Pinpoint water-soaked lesions developed on flowers and fower buds 72 h after inoculation. Lesions turned necrotic, increased in size, and often coalesced to form patches within 7 to 10 days. Shoots became blighted and died in 12-14 days. All the infected organs were covered with gray mold within 16-18 days. Control plants did not show any symptom of the disease. Re-isolation from the inoculated plants on PDA consistently yielded the inoculated fungus.
Colonies were gray. Septate hyphae (8 to 16 µm wide) beared smooth, botryous, ovoid, colourless conidia (11 to 15 × 8 to 11 µm) (Fig. 1c-d). Te isolate produced black sclerotia. These characteristics agree with the descriptions of Botrytis cinerea (Ellis & Waller, 1974, Chaube & Pundhir, 2005). Te fulfillment of Koch's postulates lets us state that Botrytis cinerea is the causal agent of flower and shoot blight of Lilium polyphyllum. There is no report of the occurrence of B. cinerea or other fungal disease on L. polyphyllum from India and other regions (Farr et al., 2011). To our knowledge, this is the first record of gray mold on L. polyphyllum.
In the fields, disease symptoms were mostly visible on the inflorescences. Te pathogen was able to develop downward towards the base of the plants in all cases, under laboratory conditions. Although B. cinerea has been reported to damage shoots even of lignifed plants (Rivera & Wright, 2002; Vasquez et al., 2007), flower tissues were always the most susceptible to infection. According to Staats (2007) gray mold disease symptoms produced by Botrytis species on bulb crops are known as blight, fre or bulb rot. In this work, no lesions were detected on bulbs either during surveys or after inoculations.
Botrytis species are important pathogens of numerous ornamentals, vegetables, orchard crops and stored agricultural products (Jarvis, 1977; Elad et al., 2004). Many Lilium species are susceptible to Botrytis infection (Cotton, 1933; Maclean, 1951; Alippi, 1969; Hou & Chen, 2003). Among 22 Botrytis species, ten have been reported to host on bulbous plants and damage their leaves, stems, bulbs, flowers, and rhizomes (Hennebert, 1973; Yohalem et al., 2003; Staats, 2007). Botrytis cinerea is a broad host range necrotrophic pathogen, responsible for great economic loss and its control is dificult (Faretra & Pallastro, 1991; Lamondia & Douglas, 1997).


G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, IERP, Almora, acknowledges the financial support.


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