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Mycosphaerella species of Tasmania and their interactions with eucalyptus plantations


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Milgate, Andrew William 2006 , 'Mycosphaerella species of Tasmania and their interactions with eucalyptus plantations', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The genus Mycosphaerella includes pathogens capable of severely
reducing the growth of eucalypts. The threat of these fungal species to the
eucalypt plantation industry prompted this investigation into the Mycosphaerella
species occurring on Eucalyptus globulus and E. nitens plantations in Tasmania.
This research focused on establishing which Mycosphaerella species are present
on eucalypts in Tasmania, their biology and host interactions.
A survey of 36 plantations across the island of Tasmania was conducted.
Five Mycosphaerella species and three species from associated anamorph genera
were isolated and identified. The most frequently isolated species with the highest
incidence and severity of infection were Mycosphaerella cryptica and M.
nubilosa. These two species appear to have the greatest potential to damage
juvenile leaves on E. globulus and E. nitens plantations in Tasmania. A link
between Mycosphaerella vespa and Coniothyrium ovatum was described for the
first time.
A severe epidemic of M. nubilosa in a field trial in north-west Tasmania
provided an opportunity to examine quantitative genetic variation in susceptibility
in a genetically diverse population of E. globulus families. Significant genetic
variation for susceptibility was detected with a narrow-sense heritability of disease
severity (measured as percent of whole tree leaf necrosis) being the highest yet reported (h2 = 0.60) for a Mycosphaerella disease of eucalypts. A possible cause
for this high heritability is that the level of disease severity encountered in the trial
was very high (40% of trees had 32% or greater of leaf area damaged) and this
may have helped the detection of genetic differences in susceptibility. This
damage had a significant deleterious impact on tree growth (for example at year 7
a 1% reduction in leaf area damaged resulted in a 0.84 mm increase in diameter growth r2 = 33%; P < 0.001). There is ample opportunity to select genotypes of E.
globulus that are relatively resistant to damage and if these were deployed in areas
of high disease risk, significant benefits in plantation productivity could be
Genetic structure of a M. cryptica population was studied following natural
infection of an E. globulus genetic trial and an adjacent E. nitens plantation in
Tasmania. Significant genetic variation in resistance was found between and within E. globulus families in the trial (three cloned and control-crossed F2 and
four open-pollinated families). Single ascospore isolates were taken from 72 E.
globulus trees which differed in their level of resistance, 21 adjacent E. nitens and
five trees in distant plantations. DNA from these isolates was scored for the
presence/absence of 75 random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) loci. Only
18 RAPD genotypes, which appc:ared to recombine rarely, were present among the
98 isolates which indicates that M. cryptica is not strictly heterothallic. Cluster
analysis using genetic distance revealed that the RAPD genotypes grouped into
two clusters that matched differences in isolate culture morphology, indicating
that the fungal population comprised at least two distinctive biotypes. The two
biotypes differed markedly in their host interactions. Biotype 2 was only found on
E. globulus while biotype 1 infected both eucalypt species. Within E. globulus,
biotype 2 was almost exclusively collected on resistant trees while biotype 1 was
found on both resistant and susceptible trees. These data may provide evidence
for specialisation ofbiotypes within the eucalypt pathogen M. cryptica.
These studies have helped to identify the current suite of Mycosphaerella
species parasitising young eucalypt plantations in Tasmania. Further evidence of
wide genetic variation in susceptibility to Mycosphaerella in E. globulus with high
heritability is provided. The first study on the population structure of M. cryptica
has revealed complex interactions with its hosts.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Milgate, Andrew William
Copyright Holders: The Author
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