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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GLOBAL CHANGE AND BELOWGROUND PROCESSES IN AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on two Southern forest diseases

Authors
item RUNION, GEORGE
item PRIOR, STEPHEN
item Rogers Jr, Hugo
item Mitchell, Robert - JWJ ECOL. RES. CNTR.

Submitted to: New Forests
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 18, 2009
Publication Date: April 6, 2010
Citation: Runion, G.B., Prior, S.A., Rogers Jr, H.H., Mitchell, R. 2010. Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on two Southern forest diseases. New Forests. 39:275-285.

Interpretive Summary: Examining how the rise in global atmospheric CO2 affects plant diseases is crucial to managing these pests and reducing yield loses. Loblolly pine and red oak seedlings were exposed to ambient and twice ambient levels of atmospheric CO2 and inoculation with the fusiform rust fungus; loblolly pine seedlings were also inoculated with the pitch canker fungus. In general, disease incidence (percent of plants infected) was decreased by exposure to elevated CO2. This exposure also increased the latent period (time to sporulation) for fusiform rust on red oak seedlings. In no instance did exposure to elevated CO2 affect disease severity (proportion of each plant affected). This research demonstrated that plants may benefit from exposure to the increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere through decreases in disease incidence.

Technical Abstract: Limited research to date has addressed how plant responses to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) will affect their diseases despite the billions of dollars in yield lost each year. We exposed loblolly pine seedlings to ambient and twice ambient levels of atmospheric CO2 prior to inoculation with the fusiform rust fungus (Cronartium quercuum f.sp. fusiforme, CQF) or the pitch canker fungus (Fusarium subglutinans, FS). Additionally, red oak seedlings (an alternate host of CQF) were exposed to ambient or elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 prior to inoculation with CQF. In all cases, disease incidence (percent of plants infected) and disease severity (proportion of each plant affected) were determined; the latent period (time to sporulation) was also monitored for the red oak seedlings. In general, disease incidence was decreased by exposure to elevated CO2. This exposure also increased the latent period for CQF on red oak seedlings. In no instance did exposure to elevated CO2 affect disease severity. This research demonstrated that plants may benefit from exposure to the increasing concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere through decreases in fungal disease incidence.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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