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Phenotypic variation of two localised populations of Phytophthora cinnamomi from Western Australia and how they impact on Eucalyptus marginata resistance

Hüberli, Daniel (2001) Phenotypic variation of two localised populations of Phytophthora cinnamomi from Western Australia and how they impact on Eucalyptus marginata resistance. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Phytophthora cinnamomi is an introduced soilborne phytopathogen to Western Australia (WA) and impacts on 2000 of the approximately 9000 plant species indigenous in the southwest of WA. Amongst these is Eucalyptus marginata (jarrah), the dominant and economically important hardwood timber species of the jarrah forest. This thesis aimed to investigate the morphological, pathogenic and genotypic variation in two local WA populations of P. cinnamomi isolates. The populations were selected from areas where jarrah clonal lines selected for resistance to P. cinnamomi may be used in the rehabilitation of infested jarrah forest and rehabilitated bauxite minesites in the southwest of WA. Resistance against a range of isolates using different inoculation methods.

Seventy-three isolates of P. cinnamomi were collected from diseased jarrah and Corymbia calophylla (marri) trees from two populations located 70 km apart and these were examined for phenotypic and genotypic variation. Microsatellite DNA analysis showed that all isolates were of the same clonal lineage. In P. cinnamomi for the first time I show that there is a broad and continuous variation in the morphology and pathology between two populations of one clonal lineage, and that all phenotypes varied independently from one another. No relationship was found between morphological and pathogenic characters. The ability of isolates in both populations to cause deaths ranged from killing all plants within 59 days to plants being symptomless 182 days after inoculation.

Single and multiple paragynous antheridia formed along with amphigynous ones in mating studies with all WA isolates and a sample of worldwide isolates. Developmental studies and cytological examination showed fertilisation tubes developed asynchronously or synchronously from both antheridial types and indicated that either antheridial type contributed a nucleus for fertilisation of the oosphere. This is the first report of paragynous antheridial associations in P. cinnamomi. Antheridial variation is a characteristic that needs to be adjusted in the taxonomic Phytophthora identification keys.

In underbark and zoospore stem inoculations of three 1.5-year-old jarrah clonal lines (two ranked as resistant (RR) and one as susceptible (SS) to P. cinnamomi in the original selection trials) at 15, 20, 25 and 30 degrees C, it was found that the method of inoculation did not produce comparable results, particularly at 25 and 30 degrees C. At these temperatures, all three clonal lines had 100% mortality when inoculated underbark, but when inoculated with zoospores, one RR line had 60% survival and the SS and remaining RR line had 100% mortality. Generally, the level of resistance of all clonal lines declined with increasing temperature. Lesion development was measured at 20, 25 and 30 degrees C for 4 days in detached branches of an RR and SS clonal line inoculated underbark with four different P. cinnamomi isolates. Detached branches were found to be a potential screen for jarrah resistance to P. cinnamomi and to allow the identification of susceptible and resistant clonal lines at 30 degrees C.

Lesion and colonisation development of P. cinnamomi isolates were assessed in situ (late autumn) of seed-grown and clonal lines of 3.5 to 4.5 year-old jarrah trees growing in a rehabilitated minesite jarrah forest in underbark inoculation of lateral branches (1995) or simultaneously in lateral branches and lateral roots (1996). Trees were underbark inoculated in lateral branches and lateral roots. Colonisation was more consistent as a measure of resistance than lesion length over the two trials because it accounted for the recovery of P. cinnamomi from macroscopically symptomless tissue beyond lesions, which on some occasions, was up to 6 cm. In the two trials, one RR clonal line consistently had small lesion and colonisation lengths in branches and roots. In contrast, the remaining two RR clonal lines had similar lesion and colonisation lengths to the SS clonal line and may, therefore, not be suitable for use in the rehabilitation of P. cinnamomi infested areas. The relative rankings of the jarrah clonal lines by colonisation lengths were similar between branch and root inoculations. Branch inoculations are a valid option for testing resistance and susceptibility of young jarrah trees to P. cinnamomi.

The pathogen was recovered on Phytophthora selective agar 3-6 months after inoculation from 50% of samples with lesions and 30% of symptomless samples in a series of growth cabinet, glasshouse and field experiments. However, up to 11% of samples with and without lesions and from which P. cinnamomi was not initially isolated contained viable pathogen after leaching the plant material in water over 9 days. This indicates that the pathogen could be present as dormant structures, such as chlamydospores, where dormancy needs to be broken for germination to occur, or fungistatic compounds in the tissue need to be removed to allow the pathogen to grow, or both. These results have important implications for disease diagnosis and management, disease-free certification and quarantine clearance.

No clonal line of jarrah was found to be 100% resistant using different inoculation methods, environmental conditions and when challenged by individuals from a large range of P. cinnamomi isolates. Even the most promising RR line had individual replicates that were unable to contain lesions or died with time. This suggests that further screening work may be required using more isolates varying in their capacity to cause disease and a broader range of environmental conditions. Jarrah clonal lines that survive such rigorous screening could then be expected to survive planting out in a range of environments in the jarrah forest and rehabilitated bauxite minesites.

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