Infection of the native California grass, Bromus carinatus, by Fusarium circinatum, the cause of pitch canker in pines.
At Point Reyes National Seashore in California, Fusarium circinatum, the causal agent of pitch canker in pines, was isolated from Pinus muricata, the California native grass, Bromus carinatus, and the introduced grass, Holcus lanatus. All grass plants from which F. circinatum was isolated were symptomless. Pathogenicity of grass isolates was confirmed by inoculation of P. radiata trees, which developed symptoms similar to trees inoculated with a pine isolate of F. circinatum. Isolates from grasses were somatically compatible with isolates recovered from symptomatic pines. B. carinatus grown in a growth chamber was inoculated with a green fluorescent protein-expressing strain of F. circinatum. Segments of inoculated leaves were incubated in moist chambers; after 1 to 2 days, sporulating hyphae were observed growing from leaf tissue. Spores of F. circinatum removed from B. carinatus leaves were confirmed to be fluorescent when illuminated with ultraviolet light. These results raise the possibility that B. carinatus cryptically infected by F. circinatum may be a source of propagules capable of infecting pines.