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The relationship between Swiss needle cast symptom severity and level of Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii colonization in coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii)

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This study examined 108 15-year-old Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) trees to investigate whether trees exhibiting less severe Swiss needle cast (SNC) symptoms were more resistant (had less fungal colonization) or more tolerant (maintained healthy foliage under similar infection levels). Trees were sampled from six open pollinated families that were categorized into three disease severity groups (two families for each group; mild, moderate and severe disease symptoms). The amount of retained foliage and level of discoloration were visually assessed on trees in the field. Fungal colonization (as determined by proportion of stomata occluded with pseudothecia and by amount of Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii DNA in sampled needles) was measured on 1- and 2-year-old needles in the laboratory. Trees in the different disease severity groups were similar with respect to amount of fungus in their needles, yet the trees in the mild symptom group retained higher proportions of needles and maintained greener foliage. The relationship between amount of P. gaeumannii in needles and SNC symptom severity was statistically significant (p < 0.05) for amount of fungal DNA in 1-year-old needles and average needle retention (NR) over the last four growing seasons. Average NR decreased with increased amount of pathogen DNA in the mild disease symptom families. This relationship was reversed in the severe disease symptom group and there was no relationship in the moderate disease symptom group. Because the amount of P. gaeumannii DNA in foliage did not differ significantly among the groups, differences in symptom severity were attributed to tolerance, not resistance. Visual scoring of individual trees for average NR over the past four growing seasons could be used to effectively assess for SNC tolerance in Douglas-fir.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: USDA Forest Service PNW Research Station, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA 2: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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