Epidemiological Investigations Shed Light on the Ecological Role of the Endophyte Phomopsis quercina in Mediterranean Oak Forests

  • Salvatore MoriccaEmail author
  • Gloria Innocenti
  • Alessandro Ragazzi
Part of the Forestry Sciences book series (FOSC, volume 86)


Findings of a study extending over a number of years on some key aspects of the biology and ecology of Phomopsis quercina in Mediterranean oak forests are reported. The main biometric parameters and physiological requirements of this significant endophytic fungus were determined in the laboratory. The microorganism was also studied in the field to explore its lifestyle in natural oak stands. The isolation frequencies of the fungus in various oak species were also related to the vitality of the trees (healthy or declining) and this showed that the fungus is involved in the widespread phenomenon of oak decline. In planta studies have proved the pathogenic activity of P. quercina in oak, and have found that it remains latent for a long time in the inner wood of oaks, but may turn into an aggressive and harmful coloniser of the tree if this is weakened by some stress factors. An important part of the study concerns an examination of the antagonism that some other endophytes, which colonise the same oak tissues and organs as P. quercina, display against this fungus. The increasing presence and abundance of P. quercina in declining (and especially drought-stressed) oaks suggests that climate change is having a significant role in destabilising the precarious balance between the host tree and the fungus, to the benefit of the latter. Lastly, some practical suggestions are offered on ways to counter the epidemic spread of this latent pathogen.



Isolation frequency


Disease index










Antagonism index


Biological control agent



Particular thanks to Dr. Celeste Vizzuso and Dr. Elena Turco, who shared with us their valuable experiences and expert knowledge on studies on endophytes of forest trees. The Authors wish also to thank Mrs. Irene Dellavalle, of the Institute for Sustainable Plant Protection of CNR, Florence, Italy, for technical assistance in the field and in the laboratory.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Salvatore Moricca
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gloria Innocenti
    • 2
  • Alessandro Ragazzi
    • 1
  1. 1.Plant Pathology and Entomology Division, Department of Agrifood Production and Environmental SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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