Assessment of inoculation methods for screening black alder resistance to Phytophthora × alni

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Plant Pathology, Volume 65, Issue 3, p.441 - 450 (2016)



Identification of resistance to Phytophthora ×alni could provide the basis for a management strategy against alder decline in riparian ecosystems in Europe. This study aimed to test methods to evaluate the resistance of riparian alders to the disease, and to screen alder genotypes for resistance. Phytophthora ×alni isolates were compared for their aggressiveness (lesion length on stem) and sporulation capacity (sporangia). While no difference in lesion lengths was found between isolates, sporangia production was dependent on isolate, highlighting the need for careful selection of isolates used for zoospore inoculation methods. Inoculation tests carried out at different periods of the year revealed a seasonal change in susceptibility to the disease, with the period from June to September being the most efficient for inoculation tests. Stem-wounded inoculations, carried out on excised shoots, were unreliable for evaluating the level of resistance of alder genotypes to P. ×alni infection, with divergent results between two successive years or between two inoculation periods during the same year. In contrast, a method that mimics the natural conditions of infection, based on flooding of rooted cuttings in artificially infected river water, was found promising. Another method, based on the inoculation of foliated terminal shoots with zoospore suspensions, was found to be repeatable and could be used for high-throughput analyses. Altogether, the results show a continuous resistance response from highly susceptible to moderately resistant genotypes. This suggests that breeding might be a useful strategy to manage alder decline caused by P. ×alni.