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Etiology and Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction-Based Detection of Gremmeniella- and Phomopsis-Associated Disease in Norway Spruce Seedlings

December 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  12
Pages  1,305 - 1,314

Isabella Børja , Halvor Solheim , Ari M. Hietala , and Carl Gunnar Fossdal

Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, P.O. Box 115, 1431 Ås, Norway

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Accepted for publication 7 July 2006.

In spring 2002, an unusual disease outburst was recorded on Norway spruce seedlings in southeast Norway. Extensive damage was recorded on 1- and 2-year-old Norway spruce seedlings that either had wintered in nursery cold storage or had been planted out in autumn 2001. The damage was characterized by leader shoot dieback and stem necroses on the upper or lower part of the shoot from 2001. Gremmeniella abietina and a Phomopsis sp. frequently were isolated from the diseased seedlings. Internal transcribed spacer (ITS) ribosomal (r)DNA sequence analysis and random amplified microsatellites profiling indicated that the G. abietina strains associated with diseased nursery seedlings belonged to the large-tree type (LTT) ecotype of the European race of G. abietina var. abietina, and inoculation tests confirmed their pathogenicity on Norway spruce. Based on ITS rDNA sequence analysis, the Phomopsis strains associated with diseased seedlings did not represent any characterized Phomopsis spp. associated with conifers. The Phomopsis sp. was not pathogenic in inoculation tests, indicating that it may be a secondary colonizer. ITS-based real-time polymerase chain reaction assays were developed in order to detect and quantify G. abietina and Phomopsis in the nursery stock. We describe here the G. abietina-associated shoot dieback symptoms on Norway spruce seedlings and conclude that the unusual disease outburst likely was related to the G. abietina var. abietina epidemic caused by the LTT on large Scots pines in 2001.

Additional keywords: Picea abies .

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society