New insights into radiata pine seedling root infection byFusarium circinatum

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Pine root infection by Fusarium circinatum has been reported in the literature, but the underlying pathogenic interaction is poorly understood. A green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged F. circinatum isolate, together with confocal microscopy, was used in order to monitor the events associated with root infection of Pinus radiata seedlings. It was found that in order to reach and successfully infect pine roots, F. circinatum employed features that are similar to those previously described for other root-infecting pathogens, such as mycelial strands, single runner hyphae and simple hyphopodia as well as other features that are reminiscent of those that are known to be involved in biotrophic invasion, such as bulbous invasive hyphae and filamentous invasive hyphae. Abundant sporulation was observed at the root surface as well as inside tracheids both in roots and in the root collar region. The fungus can spread from the roots to the aerial parts of the plant, and once there, colonization appears to be similar to the process that occurs when the pathogen is inoculated in the stem. Wilting symptoms and plant demise may be the result of a reduction in water uptake by roots and of the blockage of the vascular system by fungal hyphae and resin.

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