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The Massaria disease of plane trees:its wood decay mechanism

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Branches of Platanus × hispanica with distinct symptoms of the Massaria disease were investigated by light and transmission electron microscopy and cellular UVmicrospectrophotometry. The samples collected in the city of Mannheim, Germany, were infected in vivo with the fungus Splanchnonema platani and showed various degrees of wood decay. The investigations were focused on the decay pattern of cell walls in the different cells, i.e., fibres, vessels as well as ray and axial parenchyma cells. The following results were obtained. Hyphae of the ascomycete fungus Splanchnonema platani penetrated from cell to cell through the pits and not through the cell wall middle lamella, by the formation of thin perforation hyphae. During this process, the 1–5 μm thick hyphae became narrower without attacking the wall around the pit canal. After penetration through a pit, the hyphae again enlarged to their original diameter. This is true for all pit pairs connecting the various cell types. Late decay stages did not show a decay of cell corner regions and middle lamellae of fibres as well as vessel and parenchyma cell walls. Phenolic deposits in parenchyma cells were still present in severely attacked xylem tissue. These features point to a low lignolytic capacity of the fungus. The frequently found microscopic decay pattern with the formation of oval or spherical cavities in the S2 layer of the secondary wall with an often structurally intact S3 layer is a characteristic of softrot decay. This classification is also supported by the remaining cell corner and middle lamella regions in advanced decay stages. As a consequence of this decay type, branches fracture in a brittle mode.

Affiliations: 1: Thünen Institute of Wood Research, Leuschnerstraße 91, D-21031 Hamburg,; 2: Department of Wood Science, University of Hamburg, Leuschnerstraße 91, D-21031 Hamburg, Germany; 3: Institute of Arboriculture, Brookkehre 60, D-21029 Hamburg, Germany; 4: Thünen Institute of Wood Research, Leuschnerstraße 91, D-21031 Hamburg, Germany


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