Morpho-anatomical and microbiological analysis of kiwifruit roots with KVDS symptoms

I. D’Ippolito, S.M. Mang, H.S. Elshafie, I. Camele, G. Scillitani, M. Mastrodonato, A. Sofo, A.N. Mininni, E. Xylogiannis
Italy, one of the largest producers of kiwifruit in the world, has lost 10% of its production in recent years because of the spread of the kiwifruit vine decline syndrome (KVDS). Although the aetiology of KVDS has not been characterized, root rot symptoms are often associated with water stagnation and root asphyxia. To investigate causal factors and potential solutions to counter this syndrome, an experimental trial was undertaken in a kiwifruit orchard affected by KVDS in Latina (central Italy) in 2020. Root samples from healthy plants were collected and compared with samples taken from plants affected by KVDS. Macroscopically, the roots affected by KVDS were rotting, showing a loss of rhizodermis and cortical parenchyma. Microscopic analysis revealed damage to the root system with tissue breakdown and decomposition, flaking of the rhizodermis, cortical area with a clear loss of cell turgor, initial decay of the stele and evident detachment of the cortex from the central conducting tissues. Light microscopy, morphological and molecular analyses were carried out on the rhizodermis of roots showing decay and death symptoms. Total DNA extracted from the pure fungal colonies was amplified by PCR with ITS primers, amplicons directly sequenced, and the obtained nucleotide sequences were compared with those present in the GenBank database (NCBI) through BLAST analysis. Genomic analysis allowed the identification of three abundant fungi namely Ilyonectria vredenhoekensis, Fusarium oxysporum and Paraphaeosphaeria michotii. Further investigation is required to determine the role of these fungi in KVDS, whether they are species favoured by water stagnation and root asphyxia; their abundance and presence in other regions, orchards, and kiwifruit species; if they compromise roots functionality individually or conjunction with other microbial pathogens or abiotic factors; and if they contribute to plant death associated with KVDS.
D’Ippolito, I., Mang, S.M., Elshafie, H.S., Camele, I., Scillitani, G., Mastrodonato, M., Sofo, A., Mininni, A.N. and Xylogiannis, E. (2022). Morpho-anatomical and microbiological analysis of kiwifruit roots with KVDS symptoms. Acta Hortic. 1332, 131-136
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2022.1332.18
antagonistic activity, kiwifruit roots, kiwifruit vine decline syndrome (KVDS), microscopy, molecular identification, waterlogging

Acta Horticulturae