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Genetic Diversity of Armillaria spp. Infecting Highbush Blueberry in Northern Italy (Trentino Region)

June 2009 , Volume 99 , Number  6
Pages  651 - 658

D. Prodorutti, T. Vanblaere, D. Gobbin, A. Pellegrini, C. Gessler, and I. Pertot

First, fourth, and sixth authors: Plant Protection Department, Fondazione Edmund Mach, S. Michele all'Adige TN 38010, Italy; second and third authors: SafeCrop Centre, S. Michele all'Adige TN 38010, Italy; and fifth author: Department of Plant Pathology, Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH, Zürich, Switzerland.

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Accepted for publication 31 January 2009.

Armillaria spp. are the causal agents of root rots of several woody plants, including highbush blueberry. Since 2003, highbush blueberry plants infected by Armillaria spp. have been found in Valsugana Valley, Trentino region, northern Italy. Our aim was to identify the Armillaria spp. involved in these infections, as well as possible sources of inoculum in blueberry fields. Samples of Armillaria spp. were collected from diseased blueberry plants in 13 infected blueberry fields, from bark spread along the blueberry rows, from infected trees in the vicinity of the fields, and from four forest locations. The identification of Armillaria spp. was accomplished using a species-specific multiplex polymerase chain reaction method and by sequencing the rDNA at a specific locus. The differentiation between genotypes was performed by using simple-sequence repeat analysis. Armillaria mellea and A. gallica were the most frequently observed species infecting blueberry in the Valsugana Valley. Three to eight Armillaria genotypes were identified in each blueberry field. No individual genotypes were found in more than one blueberry field. Two-thirds of the genotypes found colonizing trees in the immediate vicinity of infected fields and two-thirds of the genotypes found colonizing the bark spread in blueberry rows were also isolated from blueberry plants in the field, indicating that bark used as mulch and infected trees surrounding the fields may be important sources of inoculum.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society