Seasonal Influence on Infection Rates of Malus sylvestris var. domestica Roots by Phymatotrichopsis omnivora

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  • 1 Texas A&M Univ., Forest Science, College Station, TX 77843-2135
  • 2 Texas A&M Univ., Plant Pathology and Microbiology, College Station, TX 77843-2132
  • 3 Texas A&M Univ., Horticultural Sciences, College Station, TX 77843-2133
  • 4 Texas A&M Univ., Plant Pathology and Microbiology, College Station, TX 77843-2132
  • 5 Texas A&M Univ., Plant Pathology and Microbiology, College Station, TX 77843-2132

Phymatotrichopsis omnivora (Duggar) Hennebert (syn. Phymatotrichum omnivorum Duggar) is a recalcitrant soilborne pathogen that causes serious root rot problems on numerous plant species in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Apple trees [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. (syn. M. domestica Borkh. non Poir.)] are highly susceptible to P. omnivora with most tree death occurring in the summer months. Studies were conducted from 1996 to 1999 to examine when and at what rate infection and colonization of roots of apple trees by P. omnivora actually occurs. In three-year-old trees growing in orchard soils in 45-gallon containers (171,457 cm3) and inoculated with sclerotia in August 1997, infection occurred in the nursery after 12 weeks. For trees inoculated with sclerotia in February 1998, infection occurred within 15 weeks. After 18 weeks, 100% of trees were infected after inoculation in August and 80% of trees were infected after the February inoculation. This information is vital to understanding the epidemiology of Phymatotrichum root rot in apple orchards.

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