Trunk disease fungi associated with Diospyros kaki in South Africa.
Persimmon trees with dieback symptoms and cankers were observed in three production areas in Western Cape Province in South Africa. Isolations were made from diseased branches, cankers, and pruning wounds as well as fungal fruiting bodies on dead branches and old pruning wounds. Several trunk disease pathogens were identified based on morphological characteristics and by molecular methods, including Diaporthe eres, D. infecunda, Eutypella citricola, E. microtheca, Phaeoacremonium parasiticum, P. scolyti, P. australiense, P. minimum, Fomitiporia capensis, Fomitiporia sp., Fomitiporella sp., and Inocutis sp., which were isolated from persimmon for the first time in the world. Other first reports from persimmon in South Africa include D. foeniculina, D. ambigua, D. mutila, Diaporthe sp., Neofusicoccum australe, N. parvum, Diplodia seriata, and Eutypa lata. Pathogenicity tests conducted with all species, except the basidiomycetes, confirmed their status as possible persimmon pathogens. This is the first study to determine and identify fungi associated with diseased persimmon in South Africa. The knowledge gained in this study forms the basis for further research to determine the impact of these fungi on persimmon productivity.