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Association of Sphaeropsis sapinea with insect-damaged red pine shoots and cones

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The association of the shoot blight and canker pathogen Sphaeropsis sapinea with red pine (Pinus resinosa) shoots and cones damaged by insects (especially Dioryctria sp.) was investigated. Samples from a single plantation approximately 35¬†years old, in Sauk Co., Wisconsin and also from three plantations, between approximately 40 and 50 years old, located in an area of pine shoot moth activity in the preceding year in Adams Co., Wisconsin were visually examined. Samples were arbitrarily collected from trees felled in the first plantation in May. Pycnidia of S. sapinea and insect damage were observed on 56 of 91 (62%) of closed cones and 17 of 165 (7%) of previous year's shoots. In the absence of insect damage, pycnidia of the pathogen were identified only on eight of 91 (9%) closed cones and never on previous year's shoots. In each of the other three plantations, 10 trees were located at intervals along transects in mid-June; one branch from the lower half of the crown per tree was pruned off, and both current and previous year's shoots were examined. Insect damage and S. sapinea pycnidia were too rare on current year's shoots to draw any conclusions. Insect damage occurred on 20–40% of over 2000 previous year's shoots that were examined, but pycnidia of the pathogen were identified on only about 5%. Although infrequent, S. sapinea was identified in association with insect-damaged previous year's shoots from these three plantations three times more frequently than those without insect damage. Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers from eight randomly selected isolates were consistent with the A group of S. sapinea, which can be aggressive on red pine. This ability to exploit insect-damaged shoots may facilitate long-term persistence of S. sapinea at low disease incidence and severity. The potential role of insect wounds as infection courts and insects as vectors of this important pathogen of pines deserves further study.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1630 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1598, USA;

Publication date: 2003-02-01

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