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Pathogenicity of Four Blue-Stain Fungi Associated with Aggressive and Nonaggressive Bark Beetles

January 1998 , Volume 88 , Number  1
Pages  39 - 44

Paal Krokene and Halvor Solheim

Norwegian Forest Research Institute, Høgskoleveien 12, N-1432 Ås, Norway

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Accepted for publication 1 October 1997.

The pathogenicity of two isolates of each of four bark beetle-associated blue-stain fungi was evaluated after mass inoculation of about 40-year-old Norway spruce trees (Picea abies). Trees were inoculated with a different isolate of each fungus in 1995 and 1996 at a density of 400 inoculations per m2 in a 1.2-m-wide band on the lower bole (about 270 inoculations per tree). Trees were felled 15 weeks after inoculation. In 1995, Ceratocystis polonica was the only fungus that had stained the sapwood (56.3% of cross-sectional sapwood area). It induced five times longer phloem necroses, 21 times more dead cambium, and 11 times more dead phloem than any other fungus. In 1996, C. polonica induced less extensive host symptoms and an unidentified Ambrosiella sp. induced comparable symptoms to C. polonica in the phloem and cambium. No trees showed any foliar symptoms 15 weeks after inoculation, but six out of eight trees inoculated with C. polonica in 1995 had only 0 to 25% functional sapwood and probably would have died if felling had been delayed. This study confirms that C. polonica, an associate of the aggressive bark beetle Ips typographus, is pathogenic to Norway spruce. The pathogenicity of the Ambrosiella sp., which is associated with a nonaggressive bark beetle, seems moderate and varies between isolates. The two remaining fungi included in this study (Ophiostoma piceae and a dark fungus with sterile mycelium), which are associated with nonaggressive bark beetles, were nonpathogenic in both experiments. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that aggressive bark beetle species vector virulent fungi that may help them kill trees, but the results also show that some nonaggressive bark beetles may vector phytopathogenic fungi.

© 1998 The American Phytopathological Society