Scots pine has "evolvability" to overcome Dothistroma, say researchers

Natural variability within the native Scots pine population appears sufficient to withstand the threat of Dothistroma needle blight (DNB) over time, researchers in Scotland and Poland have concluded.

Image: USDA
Image: USDA

In a trial, four-year-old Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) trees comprising six populations from native Caledonian pinewoods were artificially inoculated with the fungal pathogen Dothistroma septosporum.

The trees' susceptibility, assessed as the percentage of non-green needles, was measured regularly over a period of 61 days following inoculation, during which plants were maintained in conditions ideal for DNB development (warm; high humidity; high leaf wetness).

"There were significant differences in susceptibility to D. septosporum among families indicating that variation in this trait is heritable," They state.

"We conclude that native Scots pine populations contain sufficient genetic diversity to evolve lower susceptibility to D. septosporum through natural selection in response to increased prevalence of this pathogen."

The research is published in the journal Plant Pathology.

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