S. A. Tjosvold and
D. L. Chambers, University of California Cooperative Extension, Watsonville;
E. J. Fichtner, Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis;
S. T. Koike, University of California Cooperative Extension, Salinas; and
S. R. Mori, United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany, CA
Phytophthora ramorum has been found in potting media of containerized plants; however, the role of infested media on disease development under nursery conditions is unknown. This study assesses pathogen survival, sporulation, and infectivity to rhododendron plants in nursery pots with infected leaf litter that were maintained under greenhouse and field conditions. The influence of environmental conditions and irrigation method on disease incidence was also assessed. Infected leaf disks were buried below the soil surface of potted rhododendrons and retrieved at approximately 10-week intervals for up to 66 weeks. Pathogen survival was assessed by either isolation or induction of sporulation in water over three experimental periods. P. ramorum was recovered from infected leaf disks incubated in planted pots for longer than 1 year. Chlamydospores and sporangia formed on hydrated leaf disks but relative production of each spore type varied with the duration of incubation in soil. Root infections were detected after 40 weeks in infested soil. Foliar infections developed on lower leaves but only after spring rain events. Sprinkler irrigation promoted the development of foliar infections; no disease incidence was observed in drip-irrigated plants unless foliage was in direct contact with infested soil. Management implications are discussed.