First report of shell soft rot of bael (Aegle marmelos) caused by Syncephalastrum racemosum in north India.
A. marmelos, commonly known as "bael," is a medicinal tree native to India. From May to June 2015, a shell soft rot was observed on matured, harvested and stored (30±5°C and 75±5% relative humidity) fruit at the experimental farm, Rehmanhera, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. This 2015 outbreak on bael was widely prevalent in northern India, with incidence ranging from 10 to 15%. The affected fruits rotted quickly and were found not fit for consumption as the entire fruit pulp became unpalatable. Lesions developed as rapidly expanding water-soaked light brown rot patches with dark brown margins and a gelatinous texture. Lesions measured approximately 6 to 8 cm in diameter. The rot developed quickly, and on the affected portion, the gelatinous layer was easily removable. Internally, the rot progressed into the pulp and was colonized by white to black fungal mycelium. The affected fruit produced an unpleasant odor typically associated with decay. Based on morphological characteristics, pathogenicity and enzymatic activity, the causal agent was identified as S. racemosum. This is thought to be the first report of the occurrence of S. racemosum on bael.