Potential gains through selecting for resistance in spotted gum to Quambalaria pitereka

03 Mar 2011

Quambalaria shoot blight, caused by the fungus Quambalaria pitereka, is a serious disease affecting the expanding eucalypt plantation estate in subtropical and tropical eastern Australia. Trees that are severely infected are often multi-stemmed and stunted and infection of young trees may give rise to poor form in mature trees. A spotted gum clonal trial provided the opportunity to investigate the impact of the disease on tree growth and factors influencing tree architecture (tree form), which affects wood quality. We measured the effect that Q. pitereka infection during plantation establishment (up to 6 months old) has on growth and tree architecture and productivity to age 3 years. Our results show that the pathogen has a significant impact on trees at plantation establishment, which results in a negative impact on wood quality, potentially reducing merchantable value at final harvest. Tree growth and form was significantly improved where germplasm with low susceptibility to Q. pitereka infection was used.