First report of Phytophthora cambivora causing bleeding cankers and dieback on beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Italy

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Plant Disease, Volume 90, Number 10, p.1362-1362 (2006)



European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is an important forest tree species common in northern and central Europe. In Italy, this species is typical in mountain areas over 1,000 m above sea level. In the last decade, decline and death was reported on European beech caused by several Phytophthora species (2), and P. pseudosyringae was recently reported in Italy (3). During 2004 and 2005, seven declining and dying F. sylvatica trees, older than 20 years, were observed in the Veneto Region of Italy with symptoms of bleeding cankers at the base of trunks and on branches. Cankers on the collar showed tongue-shaped necroses of the inner bark and cambium tissues. Four trees were in a public park of Mestre and three were in a forest stand in the province of Belluno. Samples were taken from declining trees, one in the park and two in the forest. Inner bark and cambium tissue pieces were cut from the canker margins, cultured on CARPBHy-agar (corn meal agar amended with 250 μg ml-1 ampicillin, 10 μg ml-1 rifampicin, 10 μg ml-1 pimaricin, 15 μg ml-1 benomyl, 50 μg ml-1 hymexazol), and incubated at 20°C. Ten morphologically similar isolates were subcultured as single hyphal tips and characterized. These isolates produced nonpapillate sporangia that were ovoid, obpyriform or ellipsoid, and exhibited predominately internal proliferation in soil extract. Hyphal swellings with outgrowths were present under those conditions. The morphological characteristics were consistent with those of P. cambivora (1). Base sequences of the ITS region of rDNA were determined for six of the isolates, and an 832-bp fragment was amplified for each isolate and that sequence was 100% homologous with sequences DQ396418 and AY880985 of P. cambivora in the NCBI database ( The sequence of one isolate, ISPaVe 1950, was deposited in GenBank (Accession No. AM269752). Pathogenicity tests were conducted with 2-year-old potted beech seedlings. Inoculum of representative isolates was grown for 4 weeks on sterilized millet seeds moistened with V8 broth and added to soil at 3% (wt/vol). Control plants received sterilized inoculum only. The soil was flooded for 48 h. Inoculations were performed during May 2005 at 15 to 35°C with six replicates for the inoculated and control plants. The plants were maintained outdoors and assessed after 3 months. Wilt, root rot, and dark brown lesions at the collar developed on inoculated plants, but not on the controls. Symptoms were similar to those on naturally infected trees. The pathogen reisolated from the inoculated plants was morphologically identical to the original isolates, which confirmed P. cambivora as the causal agent. To our knowledge, this is the first report of P. cambivora on beech in Italy.