Crown gall, caused by the common soil-borne bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, can be an economic problem in walnut nurseries and production orchards in California. The principal rootstocks used for commercial walnut production in California are the native Northern California black walnut, Juglans hindsii, and “Paradox,” which are interspecific hybrids between a black walnut, primarily J. hindsii, as the maternal parent, and J. regia, the English walnut, as the paternal parent. Recent evidence has shown that some commercial black walnut trees producing Paradox hybrid seedlings are actually hybrids between J. hindsii and two other North American black walnut species, J. major and J. nigra. Here, we document that there was a higher incidence of crown gall on Paradox (J. hindsii ×J. regia) than on J. hindsii in three sites with natural soil inoculum. Paradox seedlings (with a female parent that was primarily J. hindsii with some J. nigra) inoculated with A. tumefaciens on the roots during transplanting had a higher incidence of crown gall than either J. hindsii or J. regia. When stems were inoculated with A. tumefaciens, J. hindsii ×J. regia populations had significantly larger galls than either J. hindsii or J. regia. Similarly, in stem inoculations on four out of six Paradox genotypes with a hybrid black walnut maternal parent, the progeny produced significantly larger galls than either J. hindsii or J. regia. However, two Paradox populations from black walnut hybrids that contained J. major, J. nigra, and J. hindsii produced galls that were no different in size than in the black walnut species and J. regia. Results suggest that J. regia and black walnut species are less susceptible to crown gall than most Paradox populations.
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