Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Evidence for natural resistance in Juniperus communis to Phytophthora austrocedri.

Abstract

Phytophthora austrocedri is a recently invasive pathogen causing widespread mortality of the ecologically important native conifer, Juniperus communis, in northern Britain. Observations of disease symptoms at severely infected woodlands revealed the presence of individual, apparently healthy trees in areas of high mortality. This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that these 'survivor' trees have greater resistance to P. austrocedri. Rooted cuttings were obtained from seventeen putatively resistant J. communis clones at two heavily infected natural woodlands. Inoculation of excised stems from three putatively resistant clones with P. austrocedri provided initial data to support the hypothesis of resistance. A larger trial was conducted in which whole J. communis plants representing seventeen putatively resistant clones and a known susceptible clone were inoculated with two isolates of P. austrocedri. This trial revealed variation in resistance, with at least six clones exhibiting a high degree of resistance to the pathogen. One surprising finding given the lack of genetic diversity in UK P. austrocedri isolates was that one of the clones was resistant to one isolate and susceptible to the other, warranting further investigation. The next steps are to ascertain whether this natural resistance in J. communis is heritable and exploitable for population recovery.