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Histology of Diplodia pinea in diseased and latently infected Pinus nigra shoots

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Diplodia tip blight is a serious disease of >30 conifer species worldwide. Symptoms are particularly severe on non-native, two-needled Pinus species, and typically include stunted, necrotic needles and shoots and a general decline of the tree. Latent Diplodia pinea infections occur in current-year shoots of some symptomless pines, and in some apparently healthy current-year shoots of diseased pines. Latent infections also occur in symptomless terminal buds. A histological approach was used to investigate the nature of latent infections in shoot stems and terminal buds of landscape Pinus nigra. Fungal colonization was compared in healthy, diseased and latently infected tissues. A nested-PCR technique that is specific for D. pinea was used to differentiate latently infected tissues from uninfected ones. Latent D. pinea infections were localized in the outer stem cortex, usually in the vicinity of needle scales at leaf axes. In contrast, pathogenic D. pinea infections were characterized by fungal colonization throughout the shoot stem tissues, even very early in symptom development. The presence of necrophylatic periderms in two of the latently infected samples suggests that host defences play a role in the production and maintenance of latent stem infections. Latent infections of terminal buds appeared to originate from the distal bud scales of axillary buds in the terminal bud cluster, and not from the subtending shoot. Fungal tissues were never observed inside asymptomatic, PCR-negative shoots.

Document Type: Research Article


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Publication date: December 1, 2006


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