Four different Phytophthora species that are able to infect Scots pine seedlings in laboratory conditions

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To investigate susceptibility of young Scots pine seedlings to four Phytophthora species: Phytophthora cactorum, Phytophthora cambivora, Phytophthora plurivora and Phytophthora pini; seven-day-old seedlings of Scots pine (15 seedlings per experiment) were infected using agar plugs of the respective species. Control group also consisted of 15 seedlings and was inoculated with sterile agar plugs. Results unambiguously show that after 4.5 days, all seedlings show clear signs of infection and display severe symptoms of tissue damage and necrosis. Moreover, three and two seedlings in the P. cactorum and P. cambivora infected seedlings groups, respectively, collapsed. The length of largest necrosis measured 13.4±3.90 mm and was caused by P. cactorum. To rule out any putative contamination or infection by secondary pathogens, re-isolations of pathogens from infection sites were performed and were positive in 100% of plated pieces of infected seedlings. All re-isolations were, however, negative in the case of the control group. Detailed microscopic analyses of infected tissues of young seedlings confirmed the presence of numerous Phytophthora species inside and on the surface of infected seedlings. Therefore, our results suggest Phytophthora spp. and mainly P. cactorum and P. cambivora as aggressive pathogens of Scots pine seedlings and highlight a putative involvement of these species in the damping off of young Scots pine seedlings frequently observed in forest nurseries.

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