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Identification of the Armillaria root rot pathogen in Ethiopian plantations

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Armillaria root rot is a well-known disease on a wide range of plants, world-wide. In Ethiopia, the disease has previously been reported on Pinus spp., Coffea arabica and on various native hardwoods. The causal agent of the disease has been attributed to Armillaria mellea, a species now known to represent a complex of many different taxa. The aim of this study was to determine the extent of Armillaria root rot and the identity of the Armillaria sp. in Ethiopian plantations. As part of a plantation disease survey in 2000 and 2001, samples were collected in plantations at and around Munessa Shashemene, Wondo Genet, Jima, Mizan and Bedele, in south and south-western Ethiopia. Basidiocarps were collected and their morphology studied. Morphological identification was confirmed by sequencing the intergenic spacer (IGS-1) region of the ribosomal rRNA operon and comparing data with published sequences of Armillaria spp. Armillaria isolates were collected from Acacia abyssinica, Pinus patula, Cedrela odorata and Cordia alliodora trees. Sporocarps were found on stumps of native Juniperus excelsa. Basidiocarp morphology and sequence data suggested that the fungus in Ethiopia is similar to that causing disease of Pinus spp. in South Africa and previously identified as A. fuscipes. This identification was confirmed for all isolates, based on sequence data. Armillaria fuscipes is known to be common in southern Africa. Its widespread occurrence in Ethiopia suggests that it is also the major cause of Armillaria root rot in that country.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Plant Pathology and Microbiology 2: Genetics, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

Publication date: 2004-06-01

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