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Accepted manuscript

Isolation and reinoculation of a gall-inducing fungus in the invasive Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia) in Florida

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 April 2024

Dale A. Halbritter*
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Min B. Rayamajhi
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Paul Madeira
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Jorge G. Leidi
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Telmah Telmadarrehei
Affiliation:
University of Florida Indian River Research and Education Center, Fort Pierce, FL, USA
Carey Minteer
Affiliation:
University of Florida Indian River Research and Education Center, Fort Pierce, FL, USA
*
Author for correspondence: Dale A. Halbritter, USDA-ARS Invasive Plant Research Laboratory, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA. (Email: dale.halbritter@usda.gov)

Abstract

Stem galls and witch’s broom–like growths are locally abundant on the highly invasive Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia) at field sites in southern Florida where a thrips biological control agent (Pseudophilothrips ichini) is being released to reduce the invasive potential of the plant. Galls have also been observed on potted plants in nursery stock grown to feed laboratory colonies of the agent. Herein, our objective was to isolate and identify the causal agent of the galls and assess its ability to induce galls in naive plants. We obtained stem galls from both field- and nursery-grown plants, aseptically isolated a fungus in acidic potato dextrose agar, and purified fungal colonies. Stems of potted naive saplings were wound-inoculated with purified hyphal fragments from the purified colonies, which readily induced galls like those observed in the field and nursery. Simultaneous molecular analysis of the fungal DNA obtained from the galls of field and nursery plants, experimentally induced galls, and fungal colony isolates identified this gall-inducing fungus as Cophinforma sp. We demonstrated that this Cophinforma sp. can infect S. terebinthifolia stems via mechanical wounds and induce visibly discernible stem galls in saplings within 3 mo. This will serve as a model for galled plant production for assessing the impacts of the gall-inducing fungus on S. terebinthifolia, with potential for further study to investigate interactions between the thrips and this naturalized fungus, which may synergistically and/or additively enhance S. terebinthifolia management efficacy.

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Copyright
© Weed Science Society of America, 2024

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