Artificial inoculation with Armillaria ostoyae in established conifers stressed by defoliation, planting, and thinning in Newfoundland
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Armillaria ostoyae (Romagnesi) Herink causes root disease in conifers of the northern hemisphere. Pathogenicity tests of established conifer trees with A. ostoyae, has never been done in the boreal forest. Seven forest plots were selected in Newfoundland; a black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP) plantation, a naturally regenerated black spruce stand, a balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) stand with hemlock looper (Lambdina fiscellaria (Guen.)) defoliation, two balsam woolly adelgid (Adelges piceae (Ratz.)) infested balsam fir stands (thinned and unthinned sites), a balsam fir sawfly (Neodiprion abietis Harris) defoliated balsam fir stand, and an artificially defoliated black spruce stand. Roots of fir and spruce trees were inoculated with two isolates of A. ostoyae and re-examined after 2 years. The purpose of this study was to compare differences in root infection within plots for different types of host stress to examine the response of trees to controlled inoculations of A. ostoyae. There was a statistically significant difference in number of infected roots between the two isolates used as inoculum. There was significantly more root response with severity of infection within all sites except both adelgid plots. A marginally significant relationship between tree health and root infection was present in the balsam fir sawfly plot. There was a significantly larger number of infected roots associated with rhizomorphs in the naturally regenerated black spruce stand and the artificially defoliated balsam fir stand. These results suggest that stress prediposes the host tree to root infection by A. ostoyae.