Isolation and identification of fusarium spp., the causal agents of onion (allium cepa) basal rot in northeastern israel

Ben Kalman, Dekel Abraham, Shaul Graph, Rafael Perl-Treves, Yael Meller Harel, Ofir Degani

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34 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, there have been accumulating reports from farmers and field extension personnel on the increasing incidence and spread of onion (Allium cepa) bulb basal rot in northern Israel. The disease is caused mainly by Fusarium species. Rotting onion bulbs were sampled from fields in the Golan Heights in northeastern Israel during the summers of 2017 and 2018. Tissue from the sampled onion bulbs was used for the isolation and identification of the infecting fungal species using colony and microscopic morphology characterization. Final confirmation of the pathogens was performed with PCR amplification and sequencing using fungi-specific and Fusarium species-specific primers. Four Fusarium spp. isolates were identified in onion bulbs samples collected from the contaminated field: F. proliferatum, F. oxysporum f. sp. cepae, and two species less familiar as causative agents of this disease, F. acutatum and F. anthophilium. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that these species subdivided into two populations, a northern group isolated from white (Riverside cv.) onion bulbs, and a southern group isolated from red (565/505 cv.) bulbs. Pathogenicity tests conducted with seedlings and bulbs under moist conditions proved that all species could cause the disease symptoms, but with different degrees of virulence. Inoculating seeds with spore suspensions of the four species, in vitro, significantly reduced seedlings’ germination rate, hypocotyl elongation, and fresh biomass. Mature onion bulbs infected with the fungal isolates produced typical rot symptoms 14 days post-inoculation, and the fungus from each infected bulb was re-isolated and identified to satisfy Koch’s postulates. The onion bulb assay also reflected the degree of sensitivity of different onion cultivars to the disease. This work is the first confirmed report of the direct and primary cause of Fusarium onion basal rot disease in northeastern Israel. These findings are a necessary step towards uncovering the mycoflora of the diseased onion plants and developing a preventive program that would reduce the disease damage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Cepae
  • Fungus
  • Fusarium acutatum
  • Fusarium anthophilium
  • Fusarium oxysporum f
  • Fusarium proliferatum
  • Molecular identification
  • Morphological characteristics
  • PCR detection
  • Pathogenicity assay
  • Seed infection
  • Sp


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