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A disease of peppermint caused by Phoma menthae

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  • Phoma menthae Strasser causes black lesions and cankers on stems and rhizomes of Mentha piperita L. The fungus was isolated from infected rhizomes and stems. The optimum temperature for growth of the fungus in culture was between 20-25°C; little growth occurred at 5°C, and no growth occurred at 35.5°C. Among seven carbon sources tested in liquid culture, Phoma menthae grew best on starch and poorest on glucose and maltose. The fungus grew well with fructose or galactose as carbon sources. Inoculation of healthy peppermint stems with or without wounds, produced typical symptoms of the disease. Disease developed most rapidly, however, in plants inoculated in wounds. Dry harvest weights of plants inoculated in wounds were greatly reduced as compared with those inoculated without wounds. Phoma menthae was reisolated from infected plants. Root inoculation reduced greatly the dry harvest weights of inoculated plants as compared with controls. The fungus was reisolated from roots of stunted plants. The disease developed rapidly on peppermint rhizomes between 19-25.1°C; no disease developed at 30.1°C. Plants inoculated at different ages demonstrated that resistance to the action of the fungus increased with plant age.
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