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Dispersal patterns of Fusarium circinatum in North Florida loblolly and slash pine forests across two growing seasons.

Tania Quesada: University of Florida

<div>Pitch canker is caused by the necrotrophic fungus <em>Fusarium circinatum¸</em> which causes episodic outbreaks that can result in significant losses to the timber industry. Previous studies on the phenology and dispersal of this fungus have been previously studies, but knowledge remains uncertain. These mixed results may be due to variation in host species, study location, weather patterns, and other factors. Collecting additional data from a different region and host may help better understand the dispersal of <em>F. circinatum </em>in comparison to previous studies. In this study, spore samples were collected from three locations in Northern Florida, USA over two growing seasons, in 2016 and 2017. We used in-house spore traps followed by quantitative PCR using species-specific primers to detect and quantify the abundance of DNA from airborne <em>F. circinatum </em>spores in all three locations. While low quantities, under 10 picograms, of <em>F. circinatum </em>DNA were detected per sample throughout the entire collection period, results from the first year of sampling suggest a higher peak of 50 to 150 picograms of <em>F. circinatum </em>DNA in late May and early June in all three sites, followed by a minor peak of 10 to 50 picograms in early August. By repeating this experiment for a second season we expect to validate these results, and the inclusion of weather data throughout both collection periods will provide information on whether <em>F. circinatum </em>release is influenced by particular weather patterns.</div>