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Phytophthora Species Detected in Two Ozark Forests with Unusual Patterns of White Oak Mortality

Reed, Sharon E., English, James T., Muzika, Rose-Marie
Plant disease 2019 v.103 no.1 pp. 102-109
Phytophthora cactorum, Phytophthora cinnamomi, Quercus alba, death, decline, dieback, fine roots, forests, hills, leaves, mortality, surveys, vigor, Missouri, Ohio
Widespread decline and mortality of white oaks (Quercus alba) occurred in Missouri Ozark forests between 2011 and 2017. Symptoms included rapid crown death with bronzing of leaves, retention of dead leaves, crown dieback and thinning, and loss of large limbs within one year of death. Decline and mortality were associated with hillside drainages and fit descriptions of European oak forests predisposed to decline by pathogenic Phytophthora species. A survey was performed at two locations in 2014 and 2015 to assess the distribution of dead and declining white oaks, and the occurrence and distribution of Phytophthora species. Multiple Phytophthora species were detected, including P. cinnamomi, P. cactorum, P. europaea, and P. pini. P. cinnamomi was the most common and widely distributed species among plots at both locations. The detection of P. cinnamomi at the base of white oaks was not associated with poor crown vigor. However, more quantitative survey techniques are necessary to clearly evaluate this relationship. P. cinnamomi kills fine roots of white and red oaks in North America and has been associated with the decline of white oaks in the United States (Ohio) and other countries. Further studies are needed to determine the importance of P. cinnamomi in oak decline within the Ozark highlands.