Department of Plant Pathology, UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
Recovery of Phytophthora ramorum from soils throughout sudden oak death-affected regions of California illustrates that soil may serve as an inoculum reservoir, but the role of soil inoculum in the disease cycle is unknown. This study addresses the efficacy of soil baiting, seasonal pathogen distribution under several epidemiologically important host species, summer survival and chlamydospore production in soil, and the impact of soil drying on pathogen survival. The efficacy of rhododendron leaves and pears as baits for detection of soilborne propagules were compared. Natural inoculum associated with bay laurel (Umbellularia californica), tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), and redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) were determined by monthly baiting. Summer survival and chlamydospore production were assessed in infected rhododendron leaf disks incubated under bay laurel, tanoak, and redwood at either the surface, the litter/soil interface, or in soil. Rhododendron leaf baits were superior to pear baits for sporangia detection, but neither bait detected chlamydospores. Most inoculum was associated with bay laurel and recovery was higher in soil than litter. Soil-incubated inoculum exhibited over 60% survival at the end of summer and also supported elevated chlamydospore production. P. ramorum survives and produces chlamydospores in forest soils over summer, providing a possible inoculum reservoir at the onset of the fall disease cycle.