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Diplodia shoot blight and asymptomatic persistence of Diplodia pinea on or in stems of jack pine nursery seedlings

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Diplodia pinea (syn. Sphaeropsis sapinea) is known as a major cause of damage to red pine (Pinus resinosa) seedlings in nurseries. The fungus can also be a latent pathogen of red pine seedlings, persisting in the absence of gross symptoms and later proliferating under conditions that induce host stress. In the fall of 2004, three nurseries in Wisconsin were surveyed to determine the potential for the occurrence of Diplodia shoot blight on jack pine (Pinus banksiana) seedlings and the persistence of D. pinea on or in asymptomatic seedlings of this species. Incidence of shoot blight was quantified in five 1 m long segments of an interior row in each of two survey areas in each nursery. The pathogen was identified on symptomatic seedlings collected in these areas on the basis of presence of characteristic pycnidia and conidia. Five groups of 20 asymptomatic seedlings were also collected in each of the two survey areas in each nursery. A segment of the lower stem/root collar from each of these asymptomatic seedlings was surface-disinfested and culturally assayed using tannic acid agar. The mean incidence of shoot blight (as high as 9%) and mean frequency of cultural detection from asymptomatic seedlings (as high as 20%) were greatest in proximity to red pine windbreaks which are a source of inoculum. Only D. pinea was confirmed from subsets of symptomatic and asymptomatic seedlings which were tested using mt SSU rDNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers that allow differentiation of D. pinea from D. scrobiculata and other fungi in the genus Botryosphaeria and related anamorphic fungi. Jack pine seedlings inoculated with D. pinea isolates obtained from asymptomatic nursery seedlings developed shoot blight symptoms in greenhouse trials. Thus, the ability of D. pinea to damage jack pine seedlings in nurseries has been documented and the potential for virulent strains of this latent pathogen to be distributed on asymptomatic jack pine seedlings from nurseries has been confirmed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Plant Pathology

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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