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J Mycol Pl Pathol, Vol. 40, No.

2, 2010


Erianthus arundinaceus: A New Host of Aeginetia pedunculata

Bikash Ranjan Ray and Mrinal Kanti Dasgupta1
Sugarcane Research Station, Bethuadahari 741126, Nadia, West Bengal, India, email:; 1Department of Plant Protection, Institute of Agriculture, Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan 731236, Birbhum, West Bengal, India. E-mail:

Key words: Aeginetia pedunculata, host, Erianthus arundinaceus, sugarcane Citation: Ray BR and Dasgupta MK. 2010. Erianthus arundinaceus: a new host of Aeginetia pedunculata. J Mycol Pl Pathol 40(2):283-286. Root holoparasitic angiosperm Aeginetia pedunculata (Roxb.) Wall. is the causal organism of a major wilt disease in sugarcane grown in the command area of a sugar factory at Plassey in West Bengal, India. The parasite occurs endemically each year during rainy season in Jul-Oct covering nearly 100 ha of sugarcane and causes wilting of clumps prior to crop harvest. Loss in sugarcane occurred due to depletion of sucrose from juice (59%) and ultimate wilting of clumps prior to harvest (Ray and Dasgupta 2006). Temporary control of the parasite is achieved through hand weeding, spraying of herbicide (2,4-D Na @ 2 kg ai/ha) and crop rotation with rice (Oryza sativa L.), jute (Corchorus olitorius L.), sesame (Sesamum indicum L.), green manuring Sesbania aculeata (Willd.) Pers. or forage sorghum (Sorghum bocolor (L.) Moench.), which are usually practiced by the farmers. Development of a resistant variety would have been the best method for control of the parasite. In Taiwan, replacement of susceptible varieties with a resistant cv. NCo 310, eradicated A. indica L. from sugarcane fields (Lo 1955). But at Plassey, all sugarcane varieties grown so far are susceptible to A. pedunculata. Attempt to breed sugarcane varieties resistant to A. pedunculata remained unsuccessful so far because cv. NCo 310 was found to be susceptible to A. pedunculata, the target weed pest (Ray and Dasgupta, communicated to Indian Phytopathology). The main gene source in sugarcane for resistance to diseases was Saccharum spontaneum L. which was observed as a natural host of A. pedunculata (Ray and Dasgupta 2009). As Erianthus is known for its hardiness and resistance to red rot (Sreenivasan et al. 2001) and other abiotic and biotic stresses (Ram et al. 2001), it is a prospective source of genetic resistance in sugarcane. Majority of clones developed through intergeneric crossing between sugarcane and Erianthus sp. has resulted in introgression of genes for cold tolerance and red rot resistance. E. arundinaceus has high cellulose content and is also a good source of pulp for paper industry (Amalraj et al. 2008). In the Philippines, Aeginetia indica L., a similar root holoparasite of sugarcane parasitized Imperata exaltata (Roxb.) Brongn. (Espino 1947). Imperata exaltata and Erianthus arundinaceus are synonyms of Saccharum arundinaceum Retz. (Quattrocchi 2006). We investigated on the genetic resistance in Erianthus sp. against A. pedunculata at the farm in Bethuadahari, West Bengal, India (8822'E, 2336'N, 15 m amsl) during 2009 for its possible use in A. pedunculata resistance breeding in sugarcane.

Materials and Methods

Stalk cuttings of an unknown Erianthus sp. (local name Khak in Bengali) was collected in 2006, from Gosaba in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, where it is grown as a common household plant for religious uses. The Erianthus sp. was grown at the farm and samples were sent to the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore, India for identification of the species. Seeds of A. pedunculata were freshly collected, during Nov 2008, from dry plants grown in the base of sugarcane cv. BO 91 at Dwipchar (West) Farm of Plassey Sugar Mill, Nadia, West Bengal and stored dry under ambient temperature in the laboratory, in double ploythene packets before use. The roots of Erianthus were inoculated in the field with the seeds of A. pedunculata during Jun 2009 and observations were recorded at weekly intervals.

Results and Discussion

The Erianthus species was identified as Erianthus arundinaceus (Retz.) Jeswiet (Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore Acc No. IND 07-1488). It has tall reed (> 5 m), culm solid, up to 2.5 cm across, with perennial habit, leaf blade about 2 cm wide, profuse tillering. Flowering was in the first week of Oct and only the flowered stalk dried on maturity.


J Mycol Pl Pathol, Vol. 40, No.2, 2010

Table 1. Morphological variation in A. pedunculata parasitizing on E. arundinaceus and sugarcane due to fall of temperature from 30C to 15C Morphological features of A. pedunculata Plant height (cm) Length of peduncle (cm) Number of pedicel/peduncle Length of pedicel (cm) Length of calyx (cm) Width of calyx (cm) Length of corolla tube (cm) Number of capsule/peduncle length of capsule (cm) Number of seed/capsule Length of seed (mm) Dry weight of plant (g) E. arundinaceus Sep Nov 10.7 4.6 2.1 0.2 8.8 31.7 6.6 0.3 3.4 2.6 2.3 2.0 6.1 3.3 4.2 19.3 2.1 1.1 16470 6750 0.23 0.15 28 37 Sugarcane Sep 12.2 4.6 8.2 6.7 3.8 2.5 6.4 7.8 2.3 46890 0.32 39 Nov 4.1 0.4 28.9 0.6 2.7 2.0 3.1 17.9 1.6 8750 0.26 46

Flowers of A. pedunculata appeared around the base of E. arundinaceus during Sep 2009 (Fig. 1). The growth of the flowers was as vigourous as in sugarcane (Fig. 3). During Nov when temp began to decline from 30C to 15C the flowers of A. pedunculata showed a marked reduction in growth and development similar to sugarcane (Fig. 4) but the number of flowers increased to make a thick mass (Fig. 2). The change of morphological characters such as plant height, length of pedicel, peduncle and flower of A. pedunculata parasitic on E. arundinaceus due to decline of temp was compared with sugarcane (Table 1). Adult beetles of an insect herbivore Gonocephalum depressum Fab. (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) were observed to feed on the flower and seeds of A. pedunculata grown on E. arundinaceus similar to that on sugarcane (Ray and Dasgupta, communicated to J Biol Control). There was no apparent change in the length, width or weight of stalk but brix % in the juice of E. arundinaceus stalk was lowered to some extent due to the infection of A. pedunculata without any wilting of stalk. But in sugarcane reduction in length, girth, weight of stalk and juice brix were observed with increased wilt of stalk (Table 2). Due to the fact that E. arundinaceus itself is

susceptible to A. pedunculata, any crossing programme involving sugarcane and E. arundinaceus is not logical. There may be another implication to this finding. A. pedunculata is a known medicinal plant (Banerjee 1993) and was listed in the Red Data Book as rare and threatened species. The characteristics of tall dense canopy, perennial growth habit and resistance to phytoparasitic wilt make E. arundinaceus the most suitable host for growth and reproduction of A. pedunculata for conservation. For cryopreservation, seeds of A. pedunculata were deposited at National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi (IC No. 347864). Acknowledgements The authors are grateful to Dr. N. Vijayan Nair, Director, Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore 641 007, Tamil Nadu, India for identification of the Erianthus sp. and the Joint Director, Central National Herbarium, Botanical Survey of India, Botanical Garden, Howrah 711103, West Bengal, India for identification of the Aeginetia sp.

Table 2. Effect of A. pedunculata on E. arundinaceus and sugarcane Variables of A. pedunculata Stalk length (cm) Stalk girth (cm) Stalk weight (kg) Brix of juice (%) Stalk wilt (%) Healthy 520.3 2.4 1.27 7.2 0.0 E. arundinaceus Infected Difference 530.0 + 9.7 2.4 0.0 1.30 + .03 6.2 - 1.0 0.0 0.0 Healthy 265 2.39 1.07 20.1 4.3 Sugarcane Infected 193 2.12 0.61 9.6 20.7 Difference -72 -0.27 -0.46 -10.4 +16.4

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Figure 1. Erianthus arundinaceus infected with Aeginetia pedunculata in September (top) and in November (middle); sugarcane infected with A. pedunculata in September (bottom left) and in November (bottom right)

286 References Amalraj VA, Rakkiyappan P, Neelamathi D, Chinnaraj S and Subramanian S. 2008. Wild cane as a renewable source for fuel and fibre in the paper industry. Curr Sci 95(11): 1599-1602. Banerjee LK. 1993. Plant resources of Jaldapara Rhino Sanctuary. Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata p. 163. Espino RB. 1947. Eleven years study on bungang tubo: a resume. Philippine Agriculturist 31: 151153. Lo TT. 1955. N:Co 310, highly resistant to the root parasite bunga (Aeginetia indica). Taiwan Sugar 2(4): 18-20. Quattrocchi U. 2006. CRC World Dictionary of Grasses Vol 2. CRC Press p. 1928. Ram B, Sreenivasan TV, Sahi BK and Singh N. 2001. Introgression of low temperature tolerance and red

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rot resistance from Erianthus in sugarcane. Euphytica 122(1): 145-153. Ray BR and Dasgupta MK. 2003. First report of Aeginetia pedunculata causing sugarcane wilt in India. Haustorium 44: 2-3. Ray BR and Dasgupta MK. 2006. Aeginetia pedunculata a serious parasitic weed on sugarcane in West Bengal. Newsl Assoc Advan Pl Prot 2(1): 3. Ray BR and Dasgupta MK. 2009. Three newly recorded natural hosts of Aeginetia pedunculata (Roxb.) Wall. (Orobanchaceae). J Mycol Pl Pathol 39(1): 163-165. Sreenivasan TV, Amalraj VA and Jebadhas AW. 2001. Catalogue on sugarcane genetic resources IV Erianthus species. Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore p. 94. Received: Mar 4, 2010 Accepted: May 29, 2010