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Effects of elevated atmospheric CO₂ on two southern forest diseases

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Research into the effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO₂) on plant diseases remains limited despite the economic importance of this subject. Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) seedlings were exposed to ambient and twice ambient levels of atmospheric CO₂ prior to inoculation with the fusiform rust fungus (the obligate pathogen Cronartium quercuum f.sp. fusiforme, CQF) or the pitch canker fungus (the facultative pathogen Fusarium circinatum, FC). Additionally, northern red oak seedlings (Quercus rubra; 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; with the oak seedlings, the latent period (time to sporulation) was also monitored. In general, disease incidence was decreased by exposure to elevated CO₂. This exposure also increased the latent period for CQF on 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 atmosphere through decreases in fungal disease incidence.
Runion, G.B. , Prior, S.A. , Rogers, H.H. , Mitchell, R.J.
Includes references
New forests 2010 May, v. 39, no. 3
Springer Netherlands
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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