Pathogenicity of Phytophthora pluvialis to Pinus radiata and its relation with red needle cast disease in New Zealand

Publication Type:

Journal Article


New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science, Volume 44, Issue 1, p.6 (2014)




Red needle cast, a new foliage disease of Pinus radiata in New Zealand is described. The disease has been variable in incidence and severity both regionally and in different years. The early symptoms of discrete olive coloured lesions, often with a narrow dark resinous mark or band, were first recognised in winter of 2008 in plantation forests on the eastern coast of the North Island. These lesions develop further to result in rapid needle senescence and premature defoliation. The disease has been termed red needle cast in New Zealand as affected trees have a reddish appearance prior to the casting of the needles. The subsequent four years of monitoring have confirmed that, depending on location, symptoms are first observed in late autumn through late winter. Newly developing spring and summer foliage is seldom affected. Isolation from needles using a Phytophthora-selective medium frequently yielded an unknown species of Phytophthora which was subsequently found to be identical to Phytophthora pluvialis, a species described from Oregon, USA in 2013 where it is not associated with disease. Infection appears to be limited to the needles with no recoveries of Phytophthora pluvialis having been made from the roots, stems or branches. Occasionally a second species of Phytophthora, P. kernoviae, was also recovered from needles with the same symptoms.


Needle symptoms were described in the field from 2008-2012 with isolation onto Phytophthora selective media. Koch’s postulates was completed on potted plants and detached needles.


Symptoms were reproduced on both detached needles and potted plants of Pinus radiata when inoculated with zoospore suspensions of Phytophthora pluvialis.


This paper presents evidence that Phytophthora pluvialis is the primary cause of red needle cast in New Zealand.