Evidence for the role of synchronicity between host phenology and pathogen activity in the distribution of sudden oak death canker disease

Publication Type:

Journal Article


New Phytologist, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Volume 179, Number 2, p.505–514 (2008)




exotic pathogen, inoculation, Phytophthora ramorum, Quercus agrifolia, resistance, spatial distribution, synchronicity


Variations in synchronicity between colonization rate by the pathogen and host phenology may account for unexplained spatial distribution of canker disease. The hypothesis that synchronous pathogenicity and host development are necessary for incidence of sudden oak death disease was tested by correlating seasonal variations in host cambial phenology and response to inoculation with Phytophthora ramorum.

  • Response to infection was estimated by inoculating branch cuttings from coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) trees at nine dates through a full annual cycle in 2003–2004. Host phenology was estimated from measurements of bud burst and cambial activity in spring 2006.

  • Lesions were largest in the spring soon after the cambium resumed activity. A moderate genetic component to lesion size was detected. Variation among trees in date of largest lesions correlated with variation in timing of bud burst and cambial phenology.

  • The data support the hypothesis that active host cambial tissue is a necessary requisite for successful infection with the pathogen that causes sudden oak death canker disease. Genetic variation in host phenology will buffer coast live oak against epidemics of this disease.