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Effect on nursery and field performance of Pinus patula seedlings after inoculation with Fusarium circinatum

Nicoletta B Jones, Craig M Ford, Marnie E Light, Ryan L Nadel, Izette Greyling, Gerda Fourie, Michael J Wingfield, Andrew R Morris
Southern forests 2014 v.76 no.3 pp. 125-136
Fusarium circinatum, Pinus patula, forestry, forests, fungi, inoculum, mortality, pathogens, plant establishment, seedlings, water stress, South Africa
Fusarium circinatum is an important fungal pathogen of Pinus species. In South Africa, it is the most significant pathogen of Pinus patula seedlings in forestry nurseries where it presents a substantial constraint to productivity and can continue to cause mortality in-field for up to two years after establishment. This study describes the results from two trials where P. patula seedlings were inoculated with F. circinatum to determine the impact of the pathogen on nursery and field performance. Seedlings were also subjected to water stress treatments to ascertain whether this would trigger the onset of disease symptoms. Inoculum load and timing of inoculation had significant effects on seedling survival in both the nursery and field. High inoculum concentrations caused greater levels of mortality and, where seedlings were inoculated at a young age, they showed higher levels of susceptibility to F. circinatum . Temporary water-stress in the nursery produced smaller plants and improved in-field survival, but this treatment did not trigger higher mortality in inoculated treatments. On the other hand, transplant stress was a major contributor to the higher levels of mortality observed in inoculated treatments. Overall, these studies confirmed that infection in the nursery leads to the disease problems observed during early plant establishment in the field.