Department of Plant Pathology, 1630 Linden Dr., University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison 53706.
Cronartium ribicola, causal agent of white pine blister rust, is a macrocyclic heteroecious rust that cycles between white pines and members of the genus Ribes, which are typically wild plants in North America. To improve predictability of inoculum available for infection of ecologically and commercially important white pines, this research was conducted to identify the factors that influence the development and persistence of uredinia and telia on Ribes in their natural habitats. Numbers of infectious C. ribicola rust lesions (with potentially sporulating rust sori) on tagged Ribes missouriense plants in the woods fluctuated during the season. Changes in numbers of infectious rust lesions were related to rain that occurred 13 days earlier. In field experiments, supplemental leaf wetness provided for 2 days on Ribes shoots resulted in the development of rust lesions more frequently than on control shoots. Viable inoculum and susceptible hosts were present, and the environment was the limiting factor for disease development. Lesion necrosis and leaf abscission contributed to decreases in numbers of infectious rust lesions. Higher lesion density was significantly related to earlier leaf abscission. Telial fruiting bodies occurred in low numbers from early June throughout the remainder of the season.