Significance of Phytophthoras and Pythium for oak, alder and spruce decline.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Forest Science, Volume 47, Issue Special Issue, p.96-103 (2001)


The results of a survey of soil borne Phytophthoras in 35 oak (Quercus) stands on geologically different sites in Bavaria clearly showed that the most widespread species were identified as Phytophthora citricola, P. cambivora and P. quercina. These three species were only isolated from rhizosphere soil of stands with mean soil pH-values (CaCl2) of 3.5 and higher on loamy, clayey or sandy-loamy soil texture. At these Phytophthora stands, all root parameters of declining oaks were significantly reduced as compared to healthy looking trees. It is concluded that the above mentioned Phytophthora species are involved in oak decline as primary root rot pathogens on clay or sandy-loamy stands with soil pH-values higher than 3.5. A new Phytophthora hybrid, called 'alder Phytophthora', was isolated frequently from bark sections of declining alders along several Bavarian rivers and from nursery plants. PCR-RFLP analysis proved that the Bavarian isolates belonged to the same hybrid variants found in Great Britain, Sweden, France or Denmark. Spruce decline was studied in the Bavarian Alps on stands representing various site conditions. Most root parameters were negatively correlated with crown transparency. In addition, the total number of lateral roots was significantly lower for declining compared to healthy trees. Remarkably, only Pythium species were isolated from rhizosphere soil, which were divided into several groups after PCR-RFLP analysis. In soil infestation tests, most of the isolates caused severe root damage on spruce similar to root rot seen on declining trees in the field.