Susceptibility of germinating seedlings of European and Eurasian populations of Pinus sylvestris to damping‐off caused by fusarium circinatum

Stephen Woodward* (Corresponding Author), Juan Asdrúbal Flores Pacheco, Emigdio Jordán Muñoz-Adalia, Pablo Martinez-Alvarez, Jorge Martin-Garcia, Julio Javier Diez

*Corresponding author for this work

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The effect of inoculation with Fusarium circinatum on survival of seed and seedlings of 19 populations of Pinus sylvestris was examined under environmentally controlled conditions, with four treatments (0, 50, 103, 106 spores ml−1). A single seed source of P. radiata was included as a positive control. Germination (emergence of the plumule above the compost) and health of seedlings was assessed daily, for 85 days. Spore density had a significant effect on germination: at 50 spores ml−1, only germination of a Northeast Scotland population was reduced. Treatment with 1000 spores ml−1, however, reduced germination of six populations of P. sylvestris and of P. radiata.

Survival of emerged seedlings also varied with inoculum dose. Approximately 75% of seedlings survived 85 days after germination after inoculation with 50 spores ml−1. Seedlings of all populations were killed within 12–16 days of germination by the 103 and 106 spores ml−1 treatments.

Emerged seedlings of the Austrian populations showed the highest susceptibility to F. circinatum following treatment with 50 spores ml−1, although 15% of seedlings of one Austrian population (AU3) survived to the end of the experiment (85 days after germination). There was no clear pattern in survival rates of the P. sylvestris seedlings from other populations treated with 1000 or 1 million spores ml−1 due to death of all emerged seedlings within a short period.

Variations in susceptibility of different populations of P. sylvestris to F. circinatum may be used in future selection and breeding programmes to reduce the impact of the pathogen as it spreads over wider areas in Europe and Eurasia.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12749
JournalForest Pathology
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by BBSRC Grant reference BB/L012251/1 ‘Promoting resilience of UK tree species to novel pests & pathogens: ecological & evolutionary solutions (PROTREE)’ jointly funded by BBSRC, Defra, ESRC, the Forestry Commission, NERC and the Scottish Government, under the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative. We thank Hazel Davidson for technical assistance during the work. J.A. Flores-Pacheco held a scholarship from the Academic Mobility program for Inclusive Development in Latin America/Erasmus Mundus Action 2 in partnership with Bluefields Indian & Caribbean University, Nicaragua. The work was partly supported by Project AGL2015-69370-R ‘Nuevas tecnologías de secuenciación para el estudio de los micovirus en Fusarium circinatum’. Parts of the work were carried out within the scope of COST Action FP1406 PINESTRENGTH (Pine pitch canker - strategies for management of Gibberella circinata in greenhouses and forests), supported by the COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Foundation.

Data Availability Statement

Raw data are available to legitimate users on request from the corresponding author.


  • pine pitch canker
  • survival analyses
  • pathogenicity
  • seedlings resistance


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