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First Report of Pitch Canker Disease Caused by Rhizosphaera kalkhoffii on Pinus sylvestris in China

February 2013 , Volume 97 , Number  2
Pages  283.2 - 283.2

C. J. You, C. M. Tian, and Y. M. Liang, Key Laboratory for Silviculture and Forest Conservation Affiliated to Ministry of Education, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China; X. B. Dong, Department of Forest Conservation Affiliated to State Administration of Forestry, Shenyang 110034; and C. Tsui, Department of Forest Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC,Canada V6T 1Z4

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Accepted for publication 14 September 2012.

In November 2010, pitch canker disease was first discovered on Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica Litv. from Daxinganling region in Inner Mongolia Province, China, resulting in severe dieback and bark cracking on the host, accompanied by resin flowing profusely from cankers on the infected branches, cones, and trunks (2). The early stage symptoms consisted of sunken cankers, reddish-brown needles on infected twigs followed by heavy resin soaking of the wood as the disease progressed. Pieces of pitch-soaked wood (3 × 3 mm2) cut from cankerous tissue on branches were surface-sterilized with 0.4% NaOCl for 2 min and then rinsed twice in sterile distilled water. The fragments were placed on potato dextrose agar and incubated at 28°C in the dark. After 7 to 8 days, this process consistently yielded cultures with whitish, dense, aerial mycelium that later darkened to gray. Microconidia were single, oblong to cylindrical, aseptate, and 4 to 10 × 2 to 4 μm. Macroconidia were hyaline, 1- to 2-septate, oblong to cylindrical, with tiny papillae at both ends, and 10 to 13 × 2 to 5 μm, fitting the description of Rhizosphaera kalkhoffii (1). To verify the identification based on morphological features, the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region of the ribosomal RNA genes was amplified using primers ITS1 (TCCGTAGGTGAACCTGCGG) and ITS4 (TCCTCCGCTTATTGATATGC) according to the published protocol (3), and then sequenced and compared to the GenBank database through BLAST search. Comparison of the sequences revealed 98% homology to R. kalkhoffii (EU700375.1 and EU700376.1). Representative sequences of R. kalkhoffii (JQ353721 and JQ353722) were deposited in GenBank. The pathogenicity of two representative isolates of R. kalkhoffii was also confirmed by spraying 40 μl of conidial suspension (4.6 × 106 conidia/ml) on the bark surface of 20 2-year-old healthy pine seedlings, wounded by scratching with a sterilized knife. Sterile distilled water sprays were used for the controls. Within 4 to 8 weeks after inoculation, 90% of inoculated P. sylvestris exhibited symptoms of pitch cankers around the inoculation site similar to those on the original infection. R. kalkhoffii was consistently reisolated from all inoculated plants but not from water-treated controls, fulfilling Koch's postulates. R. kalkhoffii have previously been documented as pathogens of needle blight of Picea pungens (1). To our knowledge, this is the first report of R. kalkhoffii as a pathogen on Pinus sylvestris in China, and furthermore, pitch canker disease is currently listed as a quarantine disease in China, increasing the significance of this report.

References: (1) J. Kumi et al. Eur. J. Forest Pathol. 9:35, 1979. (2) J. K. Lee et al. Plant Pathol. 16:52, 2000. (3) T. J. White et al. Page 315 in: PCR Protocols: A Guide to Methods and Applications. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, 1990.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society