Procerum root disease physiology and disease interactions with ozone
Procerum root disease of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.), caused by Leptographium procerum (Kendr.) Wingf., has been epidemic in Virginia Christmas tree plantations since 1990. Symptoms of chlorosis, wilt, and decreased apical growth resemble those of water stress. Resin infiltration of the xylem at the stem base may be responsible for vascular occlusion leading to severe water deficits and mortality. The pathogen has been isolated from the roots of ozone-sensitive eastern white pines in the field, although not from nearby tolerant trees, and it may be that ozone sensitivity predisposes the trees to infection. The objectives of my Studies were to investigate the physiology of diseased white pines, and to determine the effects of ozone fumigation on disease development. Impacts of vascular occlusion upon host water relations and gas exchange were investigated in 8-yr-old, plantation-grown, white pine Christmas trees. Disease severity was estimated as the proportion of resin-soaked cross-sectional area at the base of the stem. The linear response of a suite of six physiological variables to disease severity was highly significant. Individually, the variables pre-dawn water potential, daily change in pre-dawn to mid-day water potential, stomatal conductance, and photosynthetic and transpiration rates all decreased significantly with increasing disease severity. Fumigation studies were conducted on white and loblolly (P. taeda L.) pine seedlings to determine if ozone exposure increased the incidence of root disease or the amount of stem tissue colonized by L. procerum. Roots were inoculated by soil drenching with conidial suspension, and stems were wounded at the base and inoculated with mycelium. Beginning 24 h post-inoculation, and for 14 consecutive days, seedlings were fumigated in closed chambers with charcoal-filtered air or 200 ppb ozone for 5 h/day, then removed to a charcoal-filtered greenhouse. Six weeks post-inoculation, root and stem tissue were plated on a medium selective for L. procerum. Ozone treatment did not significantly affect the proportion of diseased roots per seedling or the vertical colonization of stem tissue in seedlings of either species.