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The infection biology of Sphaerulina musiva: clues to understanding a forest pathogen.

PloS one (2014-07-30)
Ruqian Qin, Jared M LeBoldus
ABSTRACT

Trees in the genus Populus and their interspecific hybrids are used across North America for fiber production and as a potential source of biofuel. Plantations of these species are severely impacted by a fungal pathogen, Sphaerulina musiva, the cause of leaf spot and stem canker. An inoculation protocol that does not rely on stem wounding to achieve infection was recently developed. Using this protocol two experiments were conducted to examine infection biology and disease development in the S. musiva-Populus interaction. In the first experiment non-wounded stems of one moderately resistant clone (NM6) and one susceptible clone (NC11505) were inoculated and examined by scanning electron microscopy at six different times (6 h, 12 h, 24 h, 72 h, 1 week, and 3 weeks) post-inoculation. The images indicate that the pathogen appears to enter host tissue through small openings and lenticels and that there are no significant differences in the penetration rate between the moderately resistant (NM6) and susceptible (NC11505) clones at 12 h post-inoculation. In a second experiment a histological comparison of stem cankers for resistant clone DN74 and susceptible clone NC11505 were conducted at three time points (3 weeks, 5 weeks, and 7 weeks) post-inoculation. Distinct differences in disease development were apparent between the resistant and susceptible clones at each time point, with the susceptible clone exhibiting a weak and delayed defense response. These results suggest, that following penetration, the pathogen may be able to interfere with the defense response in the susceptible host.

MATERIALS
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