Role of asymptomatic carrier trees in epidemic spread of pine wilt disease

Research paper by Kazuyoshi Futai

Indexed on: 01 Nov '03Published on: 01 Nov '03Published in: Journal of Forest Research


To determine why pine wilt disease caused by the pinewood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) recurs in the same pine stand even after thorough eradication of dead pine trees, the amount of oleoresin exudation from artificial wounds was measured from 72 Pinus koraiensis trees, highly susceptible to this disease, for 4 years. The amount of exuded oleoresin was rated from 0 to 4. All values obtained for each tree were summed at each measurement; thereby a cumulative curve was drawn to monitor the physiological condition of each test tree. Cumulative curves suggest that some pine trees that died had already been infected in the previous year or earlier and then had survived without any visible symptoms. If cessation of oleoresin exudation delays, and overlaps with activity of Monochamus alternatus, the vector beetle of pinewood nematodes, in the following season, such trees can be referred to as “latent carriers” or “asymptomatic carriers”. They could play a significant role as attractants for M. alternatus that could then transmit B. xylophilus to neighboring trees. Behavior of M. alternatus caged with several pine seedlings, only one of which acted as an asymptomatic carrier of B. xylophilus, confirmed this idea. The presence of asymptomatic pine trees, which harbored B. xylophilus nematodes or had reduced annual elongation, near stumps of newly dead trees in the study stand also substantiated this hypothesis.