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Evidence for the occurrence of induced resistance to pitch canker, caused by Gibberella circinata (anamorph Fusarium circinatum), in populations of Pinus radiata

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Pitch canker, caused by Gibberella circinata, was discovered in California in 1986. Although initially quite damaging to Monterey pines (Pinus radiata), the severity of pitch canker has moderated in areas where the disease was first observed and some trees appear to have recovered completely. The absence of symptoms on trees that were once severely affected implies they have become more resistant to the disease. Experimental work has shown that P. radiata can manifest systemic induced resistance (SIR) in response to infection by the pitch canker pathogen and observations of disease remission may indicate that SIR is operative under natural conditions as well. As a test of this hypothesis, the susceptibility of trees in remission was assessed by inoculating them with G. circinata and recording the extent of lesion development. In addition, randomly selected trees in areas that differed in residence time of pitch canker were inoculated to determine if trees with a longer period of exposure to the pathogen were more resistant to the disease. The results of these tests showed that 89% of trees observed to be in remission sustained very limited lesion development, consistent with resistance to pitch canker. Furthermore, trees in areas where pitch canker was well established tended to be more resistant than trees in areas where the disease was of more recent occurrence. In sum, these findings support the view that SIR occurs in P. radiata and is contributing to a moderation of the impact of pitch canker under natural conditions.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA 2: School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA 3: Division of Organisms & Environment, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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