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Infection of fine roots of radiata pine by Phytophthora pluvialis

Scion is the leading provider of forest-related knowledge in New Zealand
Formerly known as the Forest Research Institute, Scion has been a leader in research relating to forest health for over 50 years. The Rotorua-based Crown Research Institute continues to provide science that will protect all forests from damage caused by insect pests, pathogens and weeds. The information presented below arises from these research activities.

From Forest Health News 287, March 2019.

Recently published research from Scion’s Forest Pathology group shows that Phytophthora pluvialis, cause of red needle cast (RNC), is capable of infecting fine roots of radiata pine (Scott, et al., 2019). This was not a surprising finding given that several aerially dispersed species of Phytophthora (that damage aboveground plant tissues) are known to infect and survive in the roots of their hosts. In controlled artificial inoculation experiments, infection by P. pluvialis led to death of fine roots and root tips at comparable levels to that caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi, a well-known root pathogen of several plant species. Results of this research have important implications for our understanding of the spread, survival and impact of P. pluvialis. A lack of aboveground symptoms on root infected pine may allow spread of the pathogen on apparently healthy seedlings and rooted cuttings. Due to more stable below ground conditions, infection of roots may also allow P. pluvialis to survive unfavourable environmental periods and have important implications for understanding disease epidemiology. Loss of fine roots may also significantly reduce growth of pine in nurseries and plantations. More research is needed to investigate the influence of root infection on these factors.

Stuart Fraser (Scion)

Scott PM, Taylor P, Williams N (2019). Contrasting the infection and survival of Phytophthora pluvialis and Phytophthora cinnamomi in Pinus radiata roots. Australasian Plant Pathology. doi:10.1007/s13313-019-0619-7

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(Scion is the trading name of the New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited.)


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