Department of Plant Pathology, University of California--Davis, Davis 95616.
Because the role of soil inoculum of Phytophthora ramorum in the sudden oak death disease cycle is not well understood, this work addresses survival, chlamydospore production, pathogen suppression, and splash dispersal of the pathogen in infested forest soils. Colonized rhododendron and bay laurel leaf disks were placed in mesh sachets before transfer to the field in January 2005 and 2006. Sachets were placed under tanoak, bay laurel, and redwood at three vertical locations: leaf litter surface, litter--soil interface, and below the soil surface. Sachets were retrieved after 4, 8, 20, and 49 weeks. Pathogen survival was higher in rhododendron leaf tissue than in bay tissue, with >80% survival observed in rhododendron tissue after 49 weeks in the field. Chlamydospore production was determined by clearing infected tissue in KOH. Moist redwood-associated soils suppressed chlamydospore production. Rain events splashed inoculum as high as 30 cm from the soil surface, inciting aerial infection of bay laurel and tanoak. Leaf litter may provide an incomplete barrier to splash dispersal. This 2-year study illustrates annual P. ramorum survival in soil and the suppressive nature of redwood-associated soils to chlamydospore production. Infested soil may serve as primary inoculum for foliar infections by splash dispersal during rain events.