New Forests

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 473–489 | Cite as

Selection of Pinus spp. in South Africa for tolerance to infection by the pitch canker fungus

  • R. G. MitchellEmail author
  • M. J. Wingfield
  • G. R. Hodge
  • E. T. Steenkamp
  • T. A. Coutinho


The increasing threats from pests and diseases demand that the South African forest industry explores options to deploy alternative pine species in plantation development. This is especially true for species, such as Pinus patula Schiede and Deppe ex Schltdl. and Cham., which are highly susceptible to the pitch canker fungus Fusarium circinatum. Losses due to F. circinatum have been confined mostly to nurseries and at field establishment resulting in a significant cost to the industry. Although, the fungus has not as yet resulted in stem and branch infections on established P. patula in South Africa, it has caused pitch canker on other, more susceptible species such as P. radiata D. Don., and P. greggii Engelm. ex Parl. As alternatives to P. patula, on the warmer and cooler sites in South Africa, families of P. elliottii Engelm var. elliottii, P. tecunumanii (Schw.) Eguiluz and Perry, P. maximinoi H. E. Moore and P. pseudostrobus Lindl. were screened for tolerance to infection by F. circinatum in greenhouse studies. Seedlings were wounded and inoculated with spores of F. circinatum. Lesion development following inoculation was used to differentiate the levels of tolerance between families. The results showed that P. maximinoi, P. pseudostrobus, and the low elevation variety of P. tecunumanii are highly tolerant to infection with very little family variation. The narrow sense heritability estimates for these species were less than 0.06. In contrast, P. elliottii showed good tolerance with some family variation and a heritability of 0.22, while the high elevation source of P. tecunumanii showed a high degree of family variation and a heritability of 0.59. These results provide the industry with valuable information on pine species tolerant to F. circinatum that could be used as alternatives to P. patula in South Africa.


Camcore Tree disease Screening for resistance Disease avoidance Plantation forestry 



We thank Komatiland Forests for providing the seed and incurring the costs involved in raising and screening the plant material. We also acknowledge the assistance of Bernice Porter who cared for the plants and coordinated the screening activities at the University of Pretoria. Members of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP) and members of the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP), an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), are thanked for financial support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. G. Mitchell
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. J. Wingfield
    • 2
  • G. R. Hodge
    • 3
  • E. T. Steenkamp
    • 2
  • T. A. Coutinho
    • 2
  1. 1.York TimbersSabieSouth Africa
  2. 2.Forests and Agricultural Biotechnology InstituteUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.CamcoreNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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