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Phytophthora ramorum Colonizes Tanoak Xylem and Is Associated with Reduced Stem Water Transport

December 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  12
Pages  1,558 - 1,567

J. L. Parke, E. Oh, S. Voelker, E. M. Hansen, G. Buckles, and B. Lachenbruch

First and fifth authors: Department of Crop and Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331; second author: Division of Forest Diseases and Insect Pests, Korea Forest Research Institute, Seoul, 130-712, Republic of Korea; third and sixth authors: Department of Wood Science and Engineering; and first and fourth authors: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology; Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331.

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Accepted for publication 20 July 2007.

Isolation, detection with diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and microscopy demonstrated the presence of Phytophthora ramorum in the sapwood of mature, naturally infected tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus) trees. The pathogen was strongly associated with discolored sapwood (P < 0.001), and was recovered or detected from 83% of discolored sapwood tissue samples. Hyphae were abundant in the xylem vessels, ray parenchyma, and fiber tracheids. Chlamydospores were observed in the vessels. Studies of log inoculation indicated that P. ramorum readily colonized sapwood from inoculum placed in the bark, cambium, or sapwood. After 8 weeks, radial spread of P. ramorum in sapwood averaged 3.0 to 3.3 cm and axial spread averaged 12.4 to 18.8 cm. A field study was conducted to determine if trees with infected xylem had reduced sap flux and reduced specific conductivity relative to noninfected control trees. Sap flux was monitored with heat-diffusion sensors and tissue samples near the sensors were subsequently tested for P. ramorum. Adjacent wood sections were excised and specific conductivity measured. Both midday sap flux and specific conductivity were significantly reduced in infected trees versus noninfected control trees. Vessel diameter distributions did not differ significantly among the two treatments, but tyloses were more abundant in infected than in noninfected trees. Implications for pathogenesis, symptomology, and epidemiology are discussed.

Additional keywords:embolism, host water relations, sudden oak death, vascular disease.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society