Phytophthora disease of Quercus ilex in south-western Spain

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Forest Pathology, Blackwell Science Ltd., Volume 32, Number 1, p.5–18 (2002)



Oak decline that was affecting three holm oak sites in the province of Huelva (south-western Spain) was studied during 1998–1999. The syndromes of dieback and sudden death have been observed and, in both cases, foliar symptoms were associated with root rot. Characterization of the fungal isolates from necrotic roots led us to identify Phytophthora cinnamomi A2 as consistently associated with the disease. The optimum growth temperatures of these isolates were very high (30°C). Inoculation tests under controlled conditions demonstrated the pathogenicity of the isolates on holm and cork oak seedlings. None of the other biotic factors of Mediterranean oak decline that have been previously described were found in the present study and so, in this case, the forest decline model does not seem to be necessary in order to explain the disease observed. The defoliation and mortality of the oaks was primarily caused by P. cinnamomi, although some abiotic factors such as alternating periods of drought and wet weather in the region may play an important role.