Phytophthora species and riparian alder tree damage in western Oregon

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Sims, Laura


Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Volume Ph.D. (2013)



The genus Phytophthora contains some of the most destructive pathogens of forest trees, including the most destructive pathogen of alder in recent times, Phytophthora alni. Alder trees were reported to be suffering from canopy dieback in riparian ecosystems in western Oregon, which prompted a survey of alder health and monitoring for P. alni. In 2010 surveys in western Oregon riparian ecosystems were initiated to gather baseline data on damage and on the Phytophthora species associated with alder. Damage was recorded and analyzed from transects containing alder trees with canopy dieback symptoms according to damage type: (1) pathogen, (2) insect, or (3) wound. Phytophthora species from western Oregon riparian ecosystems were systematically sampled, isolated, identified, stored and compared. Koch's Postulates were evaluated for three key Phytophthora species recovered: P. alni, P. siskiyouensis and P. taxon Oaksoil, and alder disease in the western United States was described. Then, the ecological role of the most abundant Phytophthora species from streams was evaluated. The data indicated that many of the same agents reported causing damage to alder trees in the western United States were also damaging alder trees in western Oregon including the alder flea beetle, sawflies, flood debris, Septoria alnifolia, and Mycopappus alni. The most important damage correlated with canopy dieback was incidence of Phytophthora cankers, and isolation of Phytophthora siskiyouensis. In the initial systematic survey of Phytophthora species, 1190 individual Phytophthora isolates were recovered but were of many different species. In the survey of alder roots, P. alni subsp. uniformis was one of the species recovered from necrotic red alder roots, but overall incidence was low; it was isolated four times. From the evaluation of Koch's postulates, Phytophthora canker of alder in the western United States was described, and is a bole canker caused by Phytophthora. Phytophthora canker of alder was only found caused by P. siskiyouensis in nature, and it was isolated 74 times. Isolation was mainly from bole cankers and diseased roots on red and white alder, and from water and alder leaf debris floating in the stream. The most abundant Phytophthora species associated with red alder is an informally described species P. taxon Oaksoil, which appears to be a relatively benign aquatic saprotroph of alder leaf debris. Canopy dieback was more prevalent in riparian alder trees from transects with P. siskiyouensis than from transects with P. taxon Oaksoil but without P. siskiyouensis (70% and 35%, respectively). The informally described P. taxon Oaksoil from western Oregon is formally described here as P. obrutafolium sp. nov., closely related to P. bilorbang from western Australia, and P. taxon Oaksoil ss from an oak forest in France. In summary, other agents besides Phytophthora can damage alder trees in western Oregon. Many Phytophthora species associate with alder in western Oregon but not all of them are important damaging agents of alder. However, Phytophthora canker of alder is widespread in western Oregon. In the United States, Phytophthora canker of alder has only been found to be caused by P. siskiyouensis.


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