Pathogenicity to alder of Phytophthora species from riparian ecosystems in western Oregon

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Forest Pathology, Volume 45, Issue 5, p.358 - 366 (2015)



Described as one of the most destructive pathogens of agricultural crops and forest trees, Phytophthora is a genus of microorganisms containing over 100 known species. Phytophthora alni has caused collar and root disease in alders throughout Europe, and a subspecies has recently been isolated in North America. Reports of canopy dieback in red alder, Alnus rubra, prompted a survey of their overall health and to determine whether P. alni was present in western Oregon riparian ecosystems. Over 1100 Phytophthora isolates were recovered, representing 20 species and 2 taxa. Phytophthora-type cankers were observed in many trees, and their incidence was positively correlated with canopy dieback. High levels of mortality for red alder were not observed, which suggests these Phytophthora species are not aggressive pathogens. To test this hypothesis, three stem wound inoculations and one root dip were conducted on red alder seedlings using 13 Phytophthora species recovered from the riparian survey. Ten of the 13 Phytophthora species produced significant lesions in at least one pathogenicity test. Phytophthora siskiyouensis produced the largest lesions on red alder from the two stem wound inoculation tests conducted under summer conditions, while P. taxon Pgchlamydo caused the largest lesions during the winter stem wound inoculation test. Phytophthora gonapodyides, P. taxon Pgchlamydo and P. siskiyouensis have previously been found associated with necrotic alder roots and bole cankers in the field, and with the pathogenicity results reported here, we have established these species as causes of Phytophthora root disease and Phytophthora bole canker of alder in Oregon. While none of the Phytophthora species were especially aggressive towards red alder in the pathogenicity tests, they did cause localized disease symptoms. By weakening the root systems or boles of alders, the Phytophthoras could be leaving alders more susceptible to other insects and pathogens.


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