Signs and symptoms associated with Heterobasidion annosum and Armillaria ostoyae infection in dead and dying mountain pine (Pinus mugo ssp. uncinata)
Symptoms and signs associated with root rot caused by Heterobasidion annosum or Armillaria ostoyae in mountain pines (Pinus mugo ssp. uncinata) were investigated in the Swiss Alps. A sample of dying or recently dead mountain pine trees (≥12 cm d.b.h.) and saplings (<1.3 m height) was assessed for root pathogen infection by taking root samples followed by isolations in the laboratory. From a subsample, an additional core was taken from the butt of each tree and evaluated in the same fashion. A total of 157 dying or recently dead mountain pine trees and 184 saplings with roots infected by either of the two pathogens or which lacked infection were analyzed using logistic regression models. The main objectives were to determine the most prominent symptoms induced by the fungi (resinosis), signs of the fungi (mycelia, fruiting bodies and rhizomorphs), and tree characteristics (d.b.h./height and evidence of wounds) that would allow an easy and reliable determination of H. annosum and/or A. ostoyae infection of mountain pines in the field. Heterobasidion annosum caused both root and butt rot on mountain pine, whereas A. ostoyae was mostly restricted to the root systems of the trees sampled. The most discriminating sign for the presence of A. ostoyae infection was the presence of characteristic mycelial fans, and for H. annosum root rot the presence of H. annosum mycelia (sheets of paper-thin mycelium and mycelial pustules). In addition, resinosis was a powerful predictor for A. ostoyae in trees. Symptoms and signs indicating A. ostoyae or H. annosum infections were more reliable for saplings than for mature trees. Armillaria rhizomorphs were not useful in detecting A. ostoyae infection and, if present, were often formed by saprophytic Armillaria species. Heterobasidion annosum fruiting bodies were rarely observed and poorly reflected the widespread occurrence of this pathogen in the mountain pine forests.
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