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Epicuticular Wax and White Pine Blister Rust Resistance in Resistant and Susceptible Selections of Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

February 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  2
Pages  171 - 177

Jason A. Smith , Robert A. Blanchette , Todd A. Burnes , Jeffrey H. Gillman , and Andrew J. David

First, second, and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, 495 Borlaug Hall, 1991 Upper Buford Cir., St. Paul, MN 55108; fourth author: Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota, 305 Alderman Hall, 1970 Folwell Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108; and fifth author: Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, North Central Research and Outreach Center, 1861 East Highway 169, Grand Rapids, MN 55744

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Accepted for publication 15 October 2005.

Epicuticular wax on needles was evaluated for its influence on Cronartium ribicola infection of resistant and susceptible selections of Pinus strobus. Environmental scanning electron microscopy comparisons revealed that needles from a resistant selection of eastern white pine, P327, had a significantly higher percentage of stomata that were occluded with wax, fewer basidiospores germinating at 48 h after inoculation, and fewer germ tubes penetrating stomata than needles from a susceptible selection H111. In addition, needles from seedlings that failed to develop symptoms 6 weeks after inoculation, from a cross between P327 and susceptible parent H109, had a significantly higher percentage of stomata occluded with wax compared with needles from seedlings that developed symptoms. In experiments where epicuticular waxes were removed from needles before seedlings were infected, resistant seedlings without wax developed approximately the same number of infection spots (as measured by spot index) as susceptible seedlings with wax intact. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry comparisons of extracted epicuticular waxes revealed several peaks that were specific to P327 and not found in susceptible H111 suggesting biochemical differences in wax composition. These results implicate the role of epicuticular waxes as a resistance mechanism in P. strobus selection P327 and suggest a role for waxes in reducing spore germination and subsequent infection through stomatal openings.

Additional keywords: disease resistance, foliar cuticle, hyphae, pine needles.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society