Loquat [Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl.] is an important fruit crop in Pakistan; however, a constant decline in its production is noted due biotic and abiotic stresses, particularly disease infestation. Fungal pathogens are the major disease-causing agents; therefore, their identification is necessary for devising management options. This study explored Taxila, Wah-Cantt, Tret, Chatar, Murree, Kalar-Kahar, Choa-Saidan-Shah and Khan-Pur districts in the Punjab and Khyber Paktoon Khawa (KPK) provinces of Pakistan to explore the diversity of fungal pathogens associated with loquat. The samples were collected from these districts and their microscopic characterizations were accomplished for reliable identification. Alternaria alternata, Curvularia lunata, Lasiodiplodia theobromae, Aspergilus flavis, Botrytis cinerea, Chaetomium globosum, Pestalotiopsis mangiferae and Phomopsis sp. were the fungal pathogens infesting loquat in the study area. The isolates of A. alternata and C. lunata were isolated from leaf spots and fruit rot, while the isolates of L. theobromae were associated with twig dieback. The remaining pathogens were allied with fruit rot. The nucleotide evidence of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions (ITS1, 5.8S, and ITS2) were computed from all the pathogens and submitted in the database of National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). For multigene analysis, beta-tubulin (BT) gene and glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) regions were explored for A. alternata and C. lunata isolates, respectively. The virulence scales of leaf spots, fruit rot, and twig dieback diseases of loquat were developed for the first time through this study. It is the first comprehensive study with morpho-molecular identification, and newly developed virulence scales of the fungal pathogens associated with loquat, which improves the understanding of these destructive diseases.
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