New Disease Reports (2006) 13, 4.

First report of Penicillium allii as a field pathogen of garlic (Allium sativum)

J.G. Valdez 1*, M.A. Makuch 1, A.F. Ordovini 1, R.W. Masuelli 1, D.P. Overy 2,3 and R.J. Piccolo 1


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Accepted: 14 Feb 2006

Blue mould disease in garlic is associated worldwide with various Penicillium species and has been attributed to significant annual crop losses in Argentina; the world's second largest exporter of garlic. To identify the responsible pathogenic Penicillium species, symptomatic plants were sampled in La Consulta station (33°45' S, 69°02' W) and damp chambered. Characteristic disease symptoms are stunted and chlorotic plants with withered leaves and reduced bulb size. Bulbs are often covered with blue/green conidial masses. Isolations were made from fungal colonies emerging on affected bulbs. Pure cultures (IBT 26466, 26467, 26511 and 26512; CMB collection, BioCentrum-DTU, Denmark) were initially identified by micro-morphology as Penicillium allii and identifications were confirmed by comparing RP-HPLC secondary metabolite profiles with those of type P. allii strains.

To confirm pathogenicity, sterilised garlic cloves were injured with a needle and inoculated with 5 μl of P. allii spore suspensions (adjusted to 5×106 conidia per ml). Cloves were planted in a field not previously cultivated with garlic (4 replications and an untreated control). The original disease symptoms were produced on inoculated plants while control plants remained healthy. The survival rate of inoculated plants was 68%. P. allii was re-isolated from symptomatic field plants.

P. viridicatum was first reported as the causal agent of blue mould of garlic in Argentina (Gatica & Oriolani, 1984) before the characterisation of P. allii (Vincent & Pitt, 1989). P. allii is micro-morphologically similar to P. viridicatum and both species produce yellow exudates in pure culture. To compare pathogenic ability, standard P. viridicatum strains IBT 16939 and 15053 were inoculated into sterilised garlic cloves and incubated for 12 days. The P. viridicatum strains were not able to sporulate on the garlic cloves.

P. hirsutum was recently reported as a pathogen on garlic in Argentina (Cavagnaro et al., 2005). However, P. allii but not P. hirsutum has been reported as an aggressive pathogen of garlic in comparative pathogenicity trials conducted in moisture chambers (Overy et al., 2005). Our results suggest that P. allii, rather than P. hirsutum or P. viridicatum, is the pathogenic species responsible for garlic crop losses due to blue mould rot in Argentina. This is the first report confirming P. allii as a field pathogen of A. sativum.

Figure 1: Blue mould of garlic caused by Penicillium allii
Figure 1: Blue mould of garlic caused by Penicillium allii


This work was partly supported by project Pict # 0803687 of Argentina.


  1. Cavagnaro PF, Camargo A, Piccolo RJ, Garcia Lampasona S, Burba JL, Masuelli RW, 2005. Resistance to Penicillium hirsutum Dierckx in garlic accessions. European Journal of Plant Pathology 112, 195-9.
  2. Gatica M, Oriolani E, 1984. Penicillium viridicatum Westling, agente causal de la “podredumbre verde o moho azul” del ajo (Allium sativum L.) en Mendoza, Republica Argentina. Informativo de Investigaciones Agrarias 421/424, 1-7.
  3. Overy DP, Frisvad JC, Steinmeier U, Thrane U, 2005. Clarification of the agents causing blue mould storage rot upon various flower and vegetable bulbs: implications for mycotoxin contamination. Postharvest Biology and Technology 35, 217-21.
  4. Vincent MA, Pitt JI, 1989. Penicillium allii, a new species from Egyptian garlic. Mycologia 81, 300-03.

This report was formally published in Plant Pathology

©2006 The Authors