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Interactions between Phytophthora cinnamomiand Acacia pulchella: consequences on ecology and epidemiology of the pathogen

Jayasekera, Arunodini Uthpalawanna (2006) Interactions between Phytophthora cinnamomiand Acacia pulchella: consequences on ecology and epidemiology of the pathogen. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Phytophthora cinnamomi is an important pathogen of many plant species in natural ecosystems and horticulture industries around the world. In Western Australia, a high proportion of native plant species are susceptible to P. cinnamomi attack. Acacia pulchella, a resistant legume species native to Western Australia has been considered as a potential biological control tool against P. cinnamomi. To develop effective control methods, it is important to understand the interactions between the control agent and the different life forms of the pathogen. In this thesis the interactions are investigated between P. cinnamomi and varieties of A. pulchella which occur in jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest and sand plain ecosystems.

The soil inoculum of P. cinnamomi was compared under the potted plants of the three common varieties of A. pulchella, var. pulchella, var. glaberrima and var. goadbyi. These were grown in infected jarrah forest soil in the glasshouse and in vitro in a sterilised soil-less mix aseptically. Acacia urophylla (a species non suppressive towards P. cinnamomi) was also included as a control. An isolate of the most commonly found clonal lineage of P. cinnamomi in the jarrah forest, A2 type 1 was selected for use in experiments after testing showed it reliably produced zoospores and chlamydospores both axenically and in non-sterile conditions, in comparison to several other isolates. The lowest survival of P. cinnamomi inoculum was found under A. pulchella var. goadbyi plants grown both in non sterile soil and in aseptic soil-less mix.

All the life forms of P. cinnamomi were affected by A. pulchella (Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5). The soil leachates from potted plants of A. pulchella var. goadbyi reduced sporangial production (Chapter 2) and caused cytoplasm collapse of chlamydospores (Chapter 3). The confirmation was obtained that soil under A. pulchella was inhibitory to sporangial stage of P. cinnamomi and new evidence was obtained on chlamydospore inactivation. Cytoplasm collapse in the chlamydospores was observed both for chlamydospores on mycelial discs on Mira cloth exposed to the soil leachate and within infected roots buried in soils under the three varieties of A. pulchella plants. The effect was strongest under the plants of A. pulchella var. goadbyi and indicated that the chlamydospores of P. cinnamomi are unlikely to act as persistent structures under A. pulchella var. goadbyi plants.

In Chapter 4, bioassays were conducted with axenically produced mycelia, chlamydospores and zoospores to test the inhibitory effect of the root exudates collected from aseptically grown A. pulchella var. goadbyi plants. The zoospores of the same isolate used in the soil leachate tests were immobilised (became sluggish and encysted) within one to two minutes. When incubated for 24 h, zoospores predominantly clumped and germ tubes were observed only from the clumped ones. Chlamydospores produced by four isolates of the common A2 type 1 strain and the only one A2 type 2 strain available at the time were tested. A higher percentage of chlamydospores collapsed and a very low percentage germinated after 24 h. Chlamydospores of all the A2 type 1 isolates were inhibited by the root exudates whilst the A2 type 2 isolate remained viable. The findings showed that the suppressive effect must be due at least in part to substances exuded by the A. pulchella plants. However, it appeared that the A2 type 1 isolates were more vulnerable to this effect than the single A2 type 2 isolate.

In Chapter 5, the effect of season on sporangial suppression of P. cinnamomi was shown using field soils collected from three jarrah forest soil vegetation types and a Banksia woodland on Bassendean sand, collected in winter and summer. The effect of age of A. pulchella plants was demonstrated using the soils collected from rehabilitated bauxite mine pits. In all the locations soils were collected under A. pulchella plants and 5 m away from the nearest A. pulchella. An effect of soil type was evident as whilst the soil leachates made from the three lateritic jarrah forest soil types where A. pulchella is common in the understorey were suppressive to the sporangial stage of P. cinnamomi, this effect was not evident in the Bassendean sand under A. pulchella. A. pulchella soils collected in winter were less suppressive towards sporangial production than soils collected in summer. An effect of plant age was demonstrated as soil leachates from four year-old A. pulchella stands in rehabilitated bauxite mine sites were more suppressive for sporangia than leachates from one year-old stands.

Further information on the behaviour of the pathogen in soil and in potting mix with and without A. pulchella was obtained by infecting lupin radicles with an isolate of each A2 type, 1 and 2 strains of P. cinnamomi and burying them in the soil under the three varieties of A. pulchella plants. After a week, the chlamydospores were mostly collapsed and hyphae deteriorated. Oospores were observed and in significant numbers under the potted plants of A. pulchella var. glaberrima.

Isolates of all three clonal lineages of P. cinnamomi found in Australian soil were tested for the ability to produce oospores. Two isolates of the A1 and A2 type 2 and three isolates of the common A2 type 1 were screened. The two isozyme types of the A2 clonal lineage isolated in Australia varied in ability to self and produce oospores in planta in several soils from the jarrah forest. The isozyme type 2 of the A2 clonal lineage of P. cinnamomi produced oospores under these experimental conditions. This stimulation was not effective for most of the tested isolates of the A2 type 1 and the A1 clonal lineage. The in planta oospores were viable but dormant and the oogonial-antheridial associations were amphigynous both in vitro and in vivo. For the first time it was established that, the stimulus for selfing and oospore formation in the A2 type 2 of P. cinnamomi is available in some jarrah forest soils, with and without A. pulchella and also in the potting mix used. This raises important questions for the management of the pathogen.

Several factors were identified as potential stimuli for selfing. Among them, soil nutrient levels and essentially enhanced sulphur presence were found important. Temperature also played a key role. Oospores were produced abundantly at 21 - 25 degrees C but not over 28 degrees C.

The biology of P. cinnamomi has been studied for several decades but some important aspects remain un-researched. This thesis pioneers research into the in planta selfing aspect of the pathogen in soil. It also improved the understanding of the interactions between P. cinnamomi and A. pulchella which to some extent supports use of A. pulchella as a biological control tool against P. cinnamomi. However, attention is drawn to the natural mechanisms of this complex pathogen to survive in planta by producing oospores, the most persistent form of its life cycle.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Supervisor(s): McComb, Jen and Hardy, Giles
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