Damage caused by mistletoe Misodendrum punctulatum Banks Ex Dc. on architecture and radial growth of Nothofagus pumilio (Poepp. et Endl.) Krasser forests of southern Chile


Present address: 21 de Mayo #1690 – Casilla 737, Punta Arenas, Chile (Email: cahenriquez83@yahoo.com)


Parasitic plants rely completely or partially on host plant, namely holoparasitic or hemiparasitic, respectively. The effect of parasitism on host plants is not fully known. Misodendrum punctulatum (Misodendraceae) is the most common hemiparasite species in the southernmost forests of Chile and Argentina, and it has been identified as an important sanitary problem in forestry. In this study we evaluated the M. punctulatum effect on growth rates and architecture of pure Nothofagus pumilio (Nothofagaceae) forests in southern South America (52°10′S; 71°55′W). We established three plots of 30 × 30 m, and 10 cores were extracted from diameter at breast height (d.b.h. = 1.3 m) from living trees in each plot, using increment borers. Tree rings were measured, and anova was used to compare the annual growth rate of both infected and uninfected N. pumilio. The results showed that N. pumilio trees severely infected by M. punctulatum reduce growth rates in contrast with uninfected individuals (P < 0.05). Besides, trees with high-infection levels evidenced deterioration in its architecture, showing asymmetric and suppressed canopies, according to ad hoc numerical indexes. This study provides a starting point to understand the parasite–host relationship in the Patagonian forests of southern Chile.