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Saprophytic Activity and Sporulation of Cryphonectria parasitica on Dead Chestnut Wood in Forests with Naturally Established Hypovirulence

December 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  12
Pages  1,337 - 1,344

S. Prospero , M. Conedera , U. Heiniger , and D. Rigling

Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland

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Accepted for publication 29 June 2006.

Sustainable biological control of the chestnut blight fungus Crypho-nectria parasitica with hypovirulence depends on the production and dissemination of hypovirus-infected propagules of the pathogen. We investigated the ability of C. parasitica to sporulate and produce hypo-virus-infected spores on recently dead chestnut wood in coppice stands in southern Switzerland where hypovirulence has been naturally established. The number and type (active, inactive, or none) of cankers was assessed on experimentally cut and stacked stems, firewood stacks, and natural dead wood. Hypovirus-free and hypovirus-infected strains readily survived for more than 1 year in the chestnut blight cankers of the stacked stems. Sporulation of C. parasitica was observed on the surface of preexisting inactive and active cankers, as well as on newly colonized bark areas and was significantly more abundant than on comparable cankers on living stems. On all types of dead wood, we observed more stromata with perithecia than with pycnidia; however, a large proportion of the stromata was not differentiated. All perithecia examined yielded only hypovirus-free ascospores. The incidence of pycnidia that produced hypovirus-infected conidia ranged from 5% on natural dead wood to 41% on the experimental stacks. The mean virus transmission rate into conidia was 69%. Our study demonstrates a considerable saprophytic activity of C. parasitica on recently dead chestnut wood and supports the hypothesis of a role of this saprophytic phase in the epidemiology of hypovirulence.

Additional keywords: Castanea sativa, Cryphonectria hypovirus, CHV-1, reproductive biology, sexual and asexual reproduction.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society