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University of Tasmania (2006)

The Development of Strategies for the Management and Research of Foliar Pathogens on Eucalypt Plantations : Using Mycosphaerella as a Case Study

Smith, Anna

Titre : The Development of Strategies for the Management and Research of Foliar Pathogens on Eucalypt Plantations : Using Mycosphaerella as a Case Study

Auteur : Smith, Anna

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy PhD 2006

Université de soutenance : School of Agricultural Science University of Tasmania

Foliar pathogens are capable of severely reducing the productivity and stem form of eucalypt trees in plantations. Mycosphaerella is one of the most severe defoliating pathogens to eucalypts worldwide. In Australia Mycosphaerella leaf disease (MLD) has produced episodes of severe defoliation in Tasmania, Gippsland and south-west Western Australia. Mycosphaerella is one of the most researched pathogens of eucalypts, however the majority of studies have concentrated on the taxonomy of pathogens and investigating their geographical and host ranges. In this thesis, MLD has been chosen as a model system to develop and apply new technologies to researching foliar pathogens. Research was conducted in the four main areas of disease assessment, growth impacts, molecular detection and resistance mechanisms.

Acquiring accurate and repeatable damage estimates at a tree level is essential for calculating damage at plantation and estate levels ; especially where data will be used for computer generated modelling using programs such as Maestra or CABALA. Repeated assessments using the Crown Damage Index (CDI) tested the suitability of the method to provide reliable, objective and repeatable results. Nine assessors, with varying levels of experience, estimated damage on three plots of fifty trees each (3-4 years old), to obtain an understanding of the subjectivity of assessing damage caused by insects (e.g. Chrysophtharta spp.) and fungal pathogens (e.g. Mycosphaerella spp.) on Eucalyptus globulus Labill. Damage levels were measured by destructive sampling to enable direct comparisons between estimates and damage levels to be made. The most experienced assessors provided the most repeatable estimates and were generally the most accurate. The incidence of foliar necrosis was the least subjective measure while defoliation was the most subjective and the least accurate of the indices measured. All assessors, regardless of experience, were able to predict the Crown Damage Index (a combined index of all damage classes) to within 12 % of measured damage levels. Further modification of the CDI in a separate study on younger trees (1-2 years old) further reduced the errors involved with damage estimates to within 4 % of actual damage levels.

Despite the importance of Mycosphaerella species as significant defoliating pathogens of temperate plantation eucalypts such as E. globulus, there have been no studies to investigate the effects of Mycosphaerella damage on growth of young trees measured through to rotation length. From the results of two growth trials, one short term and one longer term (tree growth was monitored until 3 and 6 years old, respectively), the damage threshold (level of damage before there were significant growth effects) was estimated to be approximately 20 %. In both trials, losses in volume were only observed until trees changed to adult foliage at which point the growth rate returned to that of the control trees. We predicted that with less than 80 % damage, growth rates follow a type 1 growth response, i.e. after an initial growth loss damaged trees recover and have a growth rate that is parallel with control trees. Above 80 % loss of effective leaf area, it is predicted that growth rates of control trees and damaged trees are permanently divergent. To give a longterm estimate of impact, the growth of trees in the longer term trial were modelled to rotation length. After 25 years growth (rotation length) it is estimated that a loss of one year’s growth will occur as a result of the MLD damage observed in this trial. One year was also the length of time that juvenile foliage was exposed to greater than 20% damage. A nested PCR detection method was applied to leaves and stems infected by MLD to detect the five most common Mycosphaerella species that occur in Tasmania. Leaf samples were taken from E. globulus and Eucalyptus nitens (Deane and Maid.) Maid. plantations in the northern regions of Tasmania and native re-growth in the north-east of Tasmania. For the first time it has been conclusively shown that in excess of five Mycosphaerella species can coexist in E. globulus leaves and four in E. nitens leaves, including a record of Mycosphaerella nubilosa (Cooke) Hansf. on E. nitens which has only been documented once before. Samples from native Eucalyptus regnans (Thum) Lindaure provided evidence that the co-existence of several Mycosphaerella species on a single lesion may occur outside the plantation environment. The molecular detection test was a rapid, reliable and cost-effective method in comparison with classical mycological methods for the identification and differentiation of species associated with MLD on eucalypts. These studies have highlighted the potential for multiple pathogenic species of Mycosphaerella to simultaneously occupy the same niche.

Présentation (National Library of Australia)

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