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Virulence of Fusarium oxysporum and F. commune to Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings



Fusarium species can cause damping-off and root rot of young conifer seedlings, resulting in severe crop and economic losses in forest nurseries. Disease control within tree nurseries is difficult because of the inability to characterize and quantify Fusarium spp. populations with regard to disease potential because of high variability in isolate virulence. Fusarium isolates were collected from healthy and diseased seedlings of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and western white pine (Pinus monticola) from a nursery in Idaho, USA. Molecular markers such as DNA sequences (mitochondrial small subunit and nuclear translation elongation factor 1-alpha) and amplified fragment length polymorphism were used to identify isolates as either F. oxysporum or F. commune. In addition, diagnostic primers were developed to detect and distinguish F. commune from F. oxysporum. In vitro and greenhouse virulence tests were completed on Douglas-fir germinants and seedlings. For Douglas-fir germinants and seedlings, F. oxysporum isolates generally caused less severe symptoms, whereas most Fcommune isolates caused mortality through damping-off. This is the first report of direct evidence that F. commune can cause damping-off disease on Douglas-fir seedlings under greenhouse conditions.