Patterns of spore deposition by Fusarium circinatum, the causal agent of pine pitch canker (PPC) of Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) and other conifers, were studied between May 2003 and April 2004 at two sites in Northern California using a novel spore trapping method combined with a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach. At each study site, two plots were sampled by placing spore traps at 100 m intervals along transects 600 m in length. The air was sampled continuously by exchanging the spore traps every 2 weeks. The spore deposition rate (DR), ranged from 0 to 1.3 × 105 spores m–2. Spores were detected throughout the year, with higher trapping frequencies (TF) during the rainy season (November to April), than during the dry season (May to October). The detection of spores on traps at distances larger than 200 m from any Monterey pine, suggests at least midrange aerial dispersal. Finally, different inoculum loads were associated with trees displaying different levels of disease symptoms, suggesting infectiousness of the pathogen varies as the disease progresses. This study represents one of the first documenting continuous inoculum pressure values over an entire year for a forest pathogen, and provides important epidemiological information that will be invaluable in the development of disease progression models.
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