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Summary The composition of the endophytic fungal assemblages in Quercus cerris, Q. pubescens and Q. robur, three oak species most susceptible to decline, was investigated in Fagarè (Padova), Ulignano (Pisa), and Radda in Chianti (Firenze). The endophytic assemblages were studied as a function of health status of the whole tree and of twigs and leaves. The effect of station altitude was tested on Q. cerris. Samples were gathered from healthy and declining trees. In April (bud opening time) 20 twigs and 10 leaves were collected from each tree. Fungi were isolated from twig segments and leaf portions. A total of 23 fungal genera with 27 different species were isolated, in addition to a few sterile mycelia. Eleven species were found to be common to all three oak species, while other species were found only on one oak species, suggesting host specificity. Among the fungal species isolated, some were known to be pathogenic (Apiognomonia quercina, Colpoma quercinum, Diplodia mutila, Phomopsis quercina). The colonization frequency (CF) of pathogenic species varied between 0.9% for A. quercina in Q. cerris and 60.2% for P. quercina in Q. robur. Analysis of variance showed a statistically significant difference among the oak species tested. The CF was higher in declining trees in comparison with healthy trees, and also in twigs vs. leaves. The CF was found to be higher for Q. cerris trees growing at sea level as compared with those situated at an elevation of 350–400 m. In stands where, on account of particular ecological conditions, pathogenic behaviour is displayed simultaneously by more than one endophytic fungal species, trees accentuate their decline.
Istituto per la Protezione delle Piante del CNR, Piazzale delle Cascine 28 I-50144 Firenze, Italy; 2:
Dipartimento di Biotecnologie agrarie, Sezione Patologia vegetale, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Piazzale delle Cascine 28 I-50144 Firenze, Italy;