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Survival of Heterobasidion irregulare on red pine discs in cold temperatures

Myers, Lindsey J., Smith, Denise R., Stanosz, Glen R.
Forest pathology 2019 v.49 no.1 pp. e12480
Heterobasidion irregulare, Pinus resinosa, autumn, cold, conidia, coniferous forests, conifers, field experimentation, fungi, germination, inoculum, laboratory experimentation, pathogens, plantations, risk, spring, stumps, temperature, trees, winter, Eastern United States
Disease foci of the conifer root and butt decay pathogen Heterobasidion irregulare are typically initiated following germination of spores deposited on freshly cut stumps, followed by expansion by tree to tree spread through root contacts and grafts. Although most abundant in autumn, inoculum of H. irregulare is also available during some cold winter periods in northern portions of the eastern United States. In both laboratory and field experiments, fresh stem discs of red pine (Pinus resinosa) were inoculated with H. irregulare conidia to test the null hypothesis that the pathogen would not survive prolonged exposure to cold temperatures experienced during winters in those regions. After exposure to cold for various periods of time, discs were incubated and then observed for presence of the Spiniger state of the pathogen. In each of two laboratory trials, the fungus survived on red pine discs incubated at ≤−20°C for 90 days. The field experiment was conducted during each of two winters at two infested red pine plantations. Inoculated discs were deployed periodically beginning in early winter and retrieved after various periods of time until spring. The Spiniger state of the pathogen was frequently observed on discs after laboratory incubation, even after field exposure of up to 6 months, during which temperatures ≤−25°C were sometimes recorded. Whether viable due to growth from inoculum initially placed on the discs, or natural inoculum deposited on discs exposed in the infested plantations, winter temperatures did not eliminate survival of the pathogen on this natural substrate. The potential for survival on stump surfaces during sub‐freezing temperatures during which application of stump protectants in water is impractical should be considered in evaluating the potential risk from H. irregulare to economically and environmentally valuable conifer forests of northcentral and northeastern North America.