Relationship between field resistance to Phytophthora ramorum and constitutive phenolic chemistry of coast live oak

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Summary

Sudden oak death, caused by Phytophthora ramorum, has resulted in high levels of coast live oak (CLO) mortality. However, some CLO survive in areas with high disease pressure and may thus be resistant. We tested the hypothesis that such field-resistant trees contain constitutively higher levels of phenolics than susceptible trees. Phloem was sampled from the trunks of two groups of trees (one previously inoculated, one naturally infected with P. ramorum) categorized over the course of several years as putatively resistant (PR, no symptoms), in remission (IR, showed symptoms but then recovered) and symptomatic (S). Individual and total soluble phenolics from these trees were quantified. There were no significant differences in individual or total soluble phenolics between groups of naturally infected trees. However, inoculated PR and IR trees were characterized by higher constitutive levels of ellagic acid, a tyrosol derivative, and an unidentified phenolic than S trees. Ellagic acid and tyrosol-like compounds in CLO phloem are promising resistance biomarker candidates.

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