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Fungi on stems and twigs in initial and advanced stages of dieback of European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in Poland

Kowalski, Tadeusz, Kraj, Wojciech, Bednarz, Bartłomiej
European journal of forest research 2016 v.135 no.3 pp. 565-579
Alternaria alternata, Botryosphaeria stevensii, Diaporthe, Fraxinus excelsior, Fusarium avenaceum, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, Lophiostoma, Valsa, agar, branches, community structure, dieback, forests, fruiting bodies, fungal communities, fungi, isolation techniques, malt extract, necrosis, pathogens, trees, East Asia, Poland
F. excelsior is affected by dieback in the major part of its natural geographical range in Europe, which results in economic and ecological losses. The disease is caused by the ascomycetous fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, a pathogen introduced to Europe most probably from East Asia. This paper presents data on fungi identified on F. excelsior trees representing two different stages of ash dieback in Poland. Fungal communities were identified in initial necrotic lesions on living stems and twigs using the classical method of isolation on malt extract agar and morphological and molecular analyses. In dead apical parts of stems and twigs, fungi were identified by microscopic analyses of fruit bodies formed in situ. Seventy-one fungal taxa were found in 720 samples with symptoms of initial or advanced necrosis. The most common fungus detected in initial necrotic lesions in each forest site was Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (59.2 % of analysed samples). Other frequently isolated fungi included Alternaria alternata, Diaporthe eres, Diplodia mutila, Fusarium avenaceum, F. lateritium and Phomopsis spp. Fruit bodies on dead apical parts of stems and twigs were produced mostly by Diaporthe eres, Diplodia mutila, Lophiostoma corticola, Phomopsis spp., Sirodothis sp. and Valsa cypri. Fungal communities from different sites were similar, as shown by high Sørensen similarity index values. Greatest variation in fungal community structure at the initial necrotic stage was realized by D. mutila and F. avenaceum, and at the advanced necrotic stage by D. eres, D. mutila and Phomopsis spp. Data show a close affinity of certain fungi to site, suggesting geographical relatedness. The ecological effects of distribution of the invasive H. fraxineus and of other fungi sporulating on diseased ash trees in Europe are discussed.