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Poster: Biology & Disease Mgmt: Mycology


Current Status and Ongoing Conservation Efforts for the Federally Endangered Species Pityopsis ruthii
T. EDWARDS (1), P. Wadl (2), R. Trigiano (3), E. Hatmaker (3), S. Boggess (3), P. Moore (1), M. Staton (5), W. Klingeman (1), E. Bernard (1), A. Dattilo (6), B. Ownley (1), T. Rinehart (7), M. Pistrang (8), J. Skinner (1), G. Call (9), A. Windham (1), D.

Pityopsis ruthii is an endangered species endemic to the Hiwassee and Ocoee rivers in Tennessee. Due to limited information regarding biology and genetics of P. ruthii, our research over the past six years have focused on conservation and recovery efforts. Using applied and molecular techniques, a basic understanding of the biology, propagation, population genetics, and diseases of P. ruthii has been gained. Micropropagation protocols using leaf and receptacle tissues have been developed. Clones from these experiments had a 73% survival rate one year after introduction to native habitats. Vegetative propagation of stems is highly successful. Seed germination for long-term stored seeds was low (<1%) and highly variable for freshly collected seeds across different locations. A total of 814 individuals from both rivers were analyzed using chloroplast and nuclear microsatellites and indicated higher genetic diversity than initially hypothesized. Analyses of chloroplast and nuclear microsatellites showed differences between the respective data sets, indicating presence of gene flow and population structure. Two diseases were identified from greenhouse grown plants: aerial blight, caused by Rhizoctonia solani, and powdery mildew, caused Golovinomyces cichorecearum. Understanding the biology and genetics of P. ruthii will facilitate long-term conservation efforts and provide information on reintroduction and preservation of biodiversity for this endangered species.