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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #411423

Research Project: Plant-associated Nematode Management and Systematics and USDA Nematode Collection Curation

Location: Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory

Title: Rapid assessment of beech leaf disease in Fagus sylvatica buds

item WOLF, EMILY - Oak Ridge Institute For Science And Education (ORISE)
item Vieira, Paulo

Submitted to: Forest Pathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/25/2024
Publication Date: 4/15/2024
Citation: Wolf, E., Reis Vieira, P.C. 2024. Rapid assessment of beech leaf disease in Fagus sylvatica buds. Forest Pathology. 54(2):e12858.

Interpretive Summary: Detection of plant diseases and plant pathogens is crucial for plant disease management. Beech leaf disease (BLD) poses a significant threat to beech trees (Fagus species). The foliar nematode Litylenchus crenatae subsp. mccannii (Lcm) is currently recognized as the causal agent of BLD. BLD has the potential to drastically change beech forests in North America, with implications for beech ecosystems and biodiversity. First identified in Ohio in 2012, BLD has rapidly spread and is now reported in 13 additional states, as well as in Ontario, Canada. In this study, a rapid visual methodology for detecting BLD symptomatic bud scales, expediting Lcm assessment within the buds is proposed. This knowledge is critical for plant health experts, forest pathologists, and others to manage BLD by enhancing the timely detection and implementation of control measures for this devastating disease.

Technical Abstract: The European beech (Fagus sylvatica) is threatened by the foliar nematode Litylenchus crenatae subsp. mccannii (Lcm), the causal agent of beech leaf disease (BLD). Thus far, the majority of studies regarding BLD have focused on American beech (F. grandifolia). To better determine the impact of Lcm in buds of European beech, a total of 54 buds were collected from naturally symptomatic trees. Here, we characterized for the first time the bud scale morphology of two different cultivars of F. sylvatica infected with Lcm. Detailed observations of asymptomatic and symptomatic bud scales provided insight into the physical changes and arrangements of cells in the bud scale, shedding light on the dynamic processes occurring during Lcm infection. In addition, we evaluated the suitability of using the bud scale morphology for the early detection of BLD and Lcm in naturally infested buds. The distinct cellular arrangement of symptomatic bud scales cells (i.e., asymmetric pattern of enlarged cells) provides a rapid and visual, user-friendly methodology to prematurely diagnose BLD symptoms within the buds, as well as the detection of associated nematodes.