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Inert Materials as Long-Term Carriers and Disseminators of Viable Leptosphaeria maculans Ascospores and Wider Implications for Ascomycete Pathogens

Barua, Papori, You, Ming Pei, Bayliss, Kirsty L., Lanoiselet, Vincent, Barbetti, Martin J.
Plant disease 2018 v.102 no.4 pp. 720-726
Eucalyptus regnans, Phoma stem canker disease, Pinus radiata, Plenodomus lingam, animal pathogens, ascospores, biosecurity, culture media, fabrics, jute, metals, plastics, races, temperature, viability, washing, wood
The viability of ascospores of the Phoma stem canker (blackleg) pathogen, Leptosphaeria maculans, was tested on a range of carrier materials, including metals, fabrics, woods, and plastics, and under different temperature conditions of 23 and 4, 36 and 14, and 45 and 15°C day and night, respectively. At 23 and 4°C (day and night, respectively), ascospores remained viable for up to 240 days on Tasmanian oak (Eucalyptus regnans) and pine wood (Pinus radiata). At 36 and 14°C (day and night, respectively), ascospores remained viable on pine wood for up to 180 days. At 45 and 15°C (day and night, respectively), ascospores remained viable up to 60 days on jute. There were also significant differences (P < 0.001) between carrier materials in their abilities to retain ascospores following washing. At least 30% of intact ascospores recovered from inert carrier materials were able to germinate on artificial growth media within 48 h of recovery and some ascospores were still viable after 240 days. These findings confirm that L. maculans ascospores remain viable for a much longer time in the absence of a host than previously considered. This demonstrates the importance of inert materials as long-term and long-distance carriers of viable L. maculans ascospores, and highlights their potential role for spread of L. maculans races to new regions and countries via farming equipment, clothing, and other associated materials. Local, national, and international biosecurity agencies need to be aware that the risks of spread of ascomycete plant, animal, and human pathogens via inert materials are significantly greater than currently assessed.