Native to Japan, Fallopia japonica, most frequently referred to as Japanese knotweed, is a highly problematic invasive weed, particularly in the UK and North America. During surveys for natural enemies of this plant in Japan, two species of Mycosphaerella were collected. One of these was identified as M. polygoni-cuspidati, and is redescribed and neotypified. Causing a damaging leaf spot disease of F. japonica throughout its natural range in Japan, it is absent from the host's exotic range. The restriction of M. polygoni-cuspidati to F. japonica in its center of origin, together with its severe impact on host fitness, indicates that this is a coevolved natural enemy with high potential as a classical biological control agent for the long-term management of this ecologically and economically important weed. In the field, the fungus has a reduced life cycle, with only spermogonia and pseudothecia (ascomata) being formed. Ascospores are the primary source of infection, and studies show that the mycelium from in vitro cultures is also infective and hyphae penetrate mainly via the stomata. A further, undescribed species of Mycosphaerella co-occurs with M. polygoni-cuspidati, here proposed as the new species M. shimabarensis. Both species have been studied using cultural, morphological and molecular phylogenetic methods.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics