Severity of Phytophthora leaf blight disease and susceptibility of two local varieties of Colocasia to Phytophthora colocasiae Raciborski in Nsukka zone of South Eastern Nigeria

Leaf-blight disease of Colocasia caused by Phytophthora colocasiae Raciborski has been a serious impediment to cocoyam production in Nigeria. Disease severity and susceptibility of the two most cultivated local varieties “Ugwuta” (Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum) and “Nkashi Colocasia esculenta var. esculenta) were investigated. Disease severity was visually estimated as the percentage leaf surface affected by blight, lesion or lesion-related chlorosis for each leaf of a plant using a seven-point scale of 0, 5, 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100% in three locations: Ede-Oballa, Nsukka Urban and Obukpa. Susceptibility was assessed on 2 months old potted plants of each variety inoculated with a 7-day old culture of P. colocasiae. Diameters of lesions on inoculated leaves were recorded from the 3rd - 8th day after inoculation. Data on severity were subjected to ANOVA and susceptibility of the varieties was compared with t-test. Results revealed significant LSD=4.96 (0.05) and varying degrees of leaf blight severity among varieties and locations. Variety antiquorum had significantly higher severities of 42.08, 46.40 and 47.42% at Ede-Oballa, Nsukka Urban and Obukpa respectively, compared to 34.85, 36.55 and 28.19% recorded by var. esculenta at these locations, respectively. Similarly, var. antiquorum had greater lesion diameter ranging from 0.65±0.07 cm - 3.70±0.14 cm and average diameter of 2.4±0.16cm compared to var. esculenta which had 0.41±0.14cm - 3.12±0.19 cm and average diameter of 1.80±0.16. This research has shown that varieties and locations affect the severity and susceptibility of Phytophthora leaf blight disease. This could be a guide to farmers having known that var. esculenta is less severe to Phytophthora leaf blight disease.

 Ugwuja Faustina Njideka, Onaebi Chiemeka Nwakaego, Chiejina Nneka Virginia and Ugwuoke Kelvin Ikechukwu