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Susceptibility of longleaf pine roots to infection and damage by four root-inhabiting ophiostomatoid fungi

Matusick, G., Eckhardt, L.G. and Somers, G.L. (2010) Susceptibility of longleaf pine roots to infection and damage by four root-inhabiting ophiostomatoid fungi. Forest Ecology and Management, 206 (12). pp. 2189-2195.

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Restoration of longleaf pine-dominated uplands is common on many public and private lands throughout the southeastern United States. The once dominant longleaf pine ecosystem is important to many now-threatened and endangered plant and animal species, and land managers are increasing efforts to reestablish this fire-dependent forest. Unfortunately, tree mortality in longleaf pine has been observed following attempts to re-introduce prescribed fire. Root-inhabiting ophiostomatoid fungi and their insect vectors have invaded roots of symptomatic longleaf pine. Although, the relationship between ophiostomatoid fungi and longleaf pine roots is poorly understood. In order to assess the pathogenicity and virulence of four ophiostomatoid fungi to longleaf pine, trees within two broad age classes (20-30 and 40-60 years) were used for root inoculations during the fall of 2006 and 2007 along with the spring of 2007 and 2008. All fungal species consistently caused resin-filled, discolored lesions on the phloem surface extending to the xylem. The successful inoculation of healthy longleaf pine roots confirms the pathogenicity of Grosmannia huntii, Leptographium procerum, Leptographium serpens, and Leptographium terebrantis. G. huntii caused the largest lesions, including 22.20cm2, 13.37cm2, and 9.21cm2 larger than L. procerum, L. terebrantis, and L. serpens respectively. In contrast, L. procerum caused significantly smaller lesions than all other fungi, including 8.65cm2 smaller than L. terebrantis and 10.69cm2 smaller than L. serpens. Restoration efforts of longleaf pine may be affected by fungal root infection in the future. Future studies should focus on the interactions between stress factors associated with longleaf pine to define more clearly the ecological role of root-inhabiting ophiostomatoid fungi in the ecosystem.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre of Excellence for Climate Change and Forest and Woodland Health
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
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