Occurrence of the wattle wilt pathogen, Ceratocystis albifundus on native South African trees
Ceratocystis albifundus causes the disease known as wattle wilt of non-native Acacia mearnsii trees in South Africa, Uganda and Kenya. Infection results in rapid wilt and death of susceptible trees and stem cankers on more tolerant trees. It has been suggested that C. albifundus is indigenous to southern Africa, possibly having spread from native Protea spp. to non-native A. mearnsii and A. decurrens trees. Although C. albifundus has been collected from Protea spp., these reports are based on limited records for which only aged herbarium specimens exist. During surveys of wound-infecting fungi on native tree species in South Africa, a fungus resembling C. albifundus was collected from Protea gaguedi, Acacia caffra, Burkea africana, Combretum molle, C. zeyheri, Faurea saligna, Ochna pulchra, Ozoroa paniculosa and Terminalia sericea. The identity of the fungus was confirmed as C. albifundus, using comparisons of DNA sequence data for the ITS and 5.8S gene of the rRNA operon. In pathogenicity trials, lesions were produced on C. molle and A. caffra, with some trees beginning to die at the termination of the experiment. This study represents the first report of C. albifundus from native tree species in South Africa and provides unequivocal evidence that the fungus occurs naturally on native Protea spp. The wide host range of C. albifundus, as well as its abundance on these indigenous hosts lends further support to the view that it is a native African pathogen.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Department of Genetics, DST/NRF Centre for Tree Health Biotechnology, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 0002 South Africa 2: Gauteng Directorate of Nature Conservation, P.O. Box 14870, Lynn East, 0039 South Africa 3: Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology, DST/NRF Centre for Tree Health Biotechnology, Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Publication date: 2007-10-01