First report of needle blight on Blue pine (Pinus wallichiana) and Aleppo pine (P. halepensis), caused by Lophodermium macci, from Asia.
Blue pine (Pinus wallichiana), the dominant species of pine widely grown in the Himalayan region including Jammu and Kashmir State, has been found affected by needle cast disease. Recently during forest survey for needle blight diseases conducted in the year 2010 a new fungal pathogen, Lophodermium macci Sokolski and Berube, was identified for the first time from Asia with the help of morphological characterization and ITS-1 DNA sequencing technique. A free hand section in lactic acid fuchsin was used for morphological characterization. For molecular identification DNA was isolated from hysterothecia formed on the infected needles. The fungus, previously recorded on Pinus strobus, has been noticed for the first time on Blue pine (Pinus wallichiana) and Aleppo pine (P. halepensis). The pathogen L. macci is closely (98%) related to L. pini-excelsae and L. nitens. The conidiomata of L. macci which have not previously been documented were observed for the first time. The conidiomata were subepidermal dark brown to black in color. Black zone lines were only present when adjacent to other Lophodermium species. Since Lophodermium macci Sokolski and Berube has not so far been reported from any of the Asian countries so this forms the first report of this fungus from Asia. Further, the presence of L. macci on Pinus wallichiana and P. halepensis are new host records worldwide.