The mitosporic ascomycetes Dothistroma septosporum s.s. (Dorog.) Morelet and D. pini Hulbary are closely related species (1) causing red band needle blight on Pinus spp. D. septosporum (teleomorph Mycosphaerella pini Rostr.) is considered as a cosmopolitan species, whereas D. pini (no teleomorph known) seems to have a more restricted distribution area. Detected in the United States on Pinus nigra for the first time, it was later found in Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, and France on different pine species (P. radiata, P. mugo, P. pallasiana) (3). In Switzerland, Dothistroma sp. (species not further determined) was recorded in 1989 for the first time and since then only damages on planted pines (mainly P. mugo and P. nigra) in urban areas were reported (R. Engesser, personal communication). In September 2012 and in April 2013, several planted mature trees and naturally regenerated young trees of P. nigra with Dothistroma needle blight were detected on a climatically mild forest site on limestone at the shore of Lake Walensee (47°07′48.0″ N, 9°13′54.4″ E, 420 m asl). In 2012, symptomatic needles were collected from the litter under one planted mature P. nigra tree and in 2013, symptomatic needles were collected from green twigs from a 2 m tall naturally regenerated P. nigra specimen. Conidiomata were frequently observed in the red bands but no conidia were detected. For fungal isolation, the surface of infected needles was shortly disinfected with 95% ethanol. The epi- and hypo-dermis covering the still closed conidiomata was removed and small tissue samples from the mesophyll (less than 0.5 mm length) were placed on malt extract agar (15 g/liter agar, 20 g/liter malt extract) amended by 50 mg/liter oxytetracycline. Conidia were observed after one year at 4°C in the resulting pure colonies (3 to 4 cm diameter on malt extract agar medium). The conidia formed by strain OH_120923_2_1_1 (KJ878557 = D. pini) were hyaline, smooth, thin-walled, 2- to 4-celled, and 31.6 (22 to 37) × 2.8 (2 to 3.5) μm. While conidial morphology of both Dothistroma species overlap, DNA was extracted and the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region (primers ITS 1 and ITS 4) sequenced (KJ878557 to 81). From the 25 obtained ITS sequences, seven were identical with AY808275 (D. septosporum from P. radiata, South Africa, CMW 684), three were identical with AY808302 (D. pini from P. nigra, Michigan, CMW 10951), and 15 were identical with DQ926964 (D. pini from P. pallasiana, Ukraine, CMW 23767). The North American and Ukrainian D. pini sequences (AY808302 and DQ926964) showed only 1 bp difference. In addition, mating type genes were amplified using the method described by Groenewald et al. (2) for D. pini and scored using gel electrophoresis. Analyses showed that both D. pini ITS-sequence variants (e.g., KJ878557 and KJ878558) and both mating types were sometimes present in the same needle. In two cases, both mating types and ITS-sequence variants were also present within the same lesion. Interestingly, D. pini and D. septosporum were found on the same tree but not on the same needles. This is the first report of D. pini in Switzerland. Although symptoms of red band needle blight (species not determined) were repeatedly observed on this site during the last 20 years, the disease level always remained low and no tree mortality was noted. However, due to the presence of two ITS-sequence variants and both mating types, the incidence of D. pini in Switzerland deserves attention.
References: (1) I. Barnes et al. Stud. Mycol. 50:551, 2004. (2) M. Groenewald et al. Phytopathology 97:825, 2007. (3) D. Piou and R. Ioos. Plant Dis. 98:841, 2014.
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