Survey and virulence of fungi occurring on diseased Acacia mearnsii in South Africa

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 99, Issue 3, p.327 - 336 (1997)



Various disease symptoms occur on Acacia mearnsii in South Africa, of which black butt, on older trees, is the most common. Other less commonly reported symptoms include gummosis, cracks, discoloured lesions and die-back. These diseases are of unknown aetiology. During a 2-year period, a survey of diseases on A. mearnsii was conducted in two major commercial wattle-growing areas of South Africa. Samples were collected from all symptomatic tissue on randomly selected trees in each area. A wide range of fungi were isolated, including species of Phytophthora, Seiridium, Sphaeropsis, Fusarium, Diplodia, Ceratocystis and Botryosphaeria. Of these, Phytophthora spp. were isolated only from basal lesions and soil, whereas the Diplodia and Fusarium spp. were the most frequently isolated from diseased tissue on aboveground parts of trees. Phytophthora parasitica and Ceratocystis albofundus, which are well-known pathogens of A. mearnsii, were excluded from the pathogenicity tests. All other fungi isolated, and particularly those belonging to genera that are known plant pathogens, were used in pathogenicity tests to determine their possible role in diseases. For each isolate, 20 saplings were inoculated in the field, and the resultant lesion lengths were measured. Only the Phytophthora spp., Botryosphaeria sp. and Sphaeropsis sp. produced noticeable lesions. From the surveys and pathogenicity tests, it is clear that many fungi are associated with diseases of A. mearnsii, and that these deserve further study.