Deidda, Antonio and Buffa, Franco and Linaldeddu, Benedetto Teodoro and Pinna, Claudia <1981- > and Scanu, Bruno and Deiana, Vitale and Satta, Alberto and Franceschini, Antonio and Floris, Ignazio (2016) Emerging pests and diseases threaten Eucalyptus camaldulensis plantations in Sardinia, Italy. iForest (early view). ISSN 1971-7458. Article.
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The rapid growth and environmental adaptability of Eucalyptus species has favored their global cultivation for pulpwood production. On the island of Sardinia, Italy, eucalypt plantations were established in the 20th century primarily in areas reclaimed from marshland, but the trees are now grown all over the island as ornamentals or windbreaks, and for timber, pulp and honey production. In recent years, an unusual decline and mortality of unknown etiology has been observed in Eucalyptus camaldulensis (river red gum) plantations throughout the island. Given the ecological and economic importance of eucalypt ecosystems in Sardinia, a survey was carried out in 2013 to determine which insect pests and fungal pathogens are directly involved in these phenomena. Field surveys throughout the island revealed severe infestations with the red gum lerp psyllid (Glycaspis brimblecombei) at all 12 surveyed sites, with the greatest numbers of pre-imaginal stages and adults occurring between May and July. The adult population reached its peak in July, followed 2 months later by the peak population of its specific parasitoid, Psyllaephagus bliteus. Symptoms of leaf chlorosis, crown thinning, shoot and branch dieback, sunken cankers, epicormic shoots and exudations of kino gum were also observed at the 12 field sites. Symptomatic woody samples yielded fungal isolates representing three distinct families: Botryosphaeriaceae, Diaporthaceae and Valsaceae. Morphological and DNA sequence data revealed seven distinct fungal species, namely Diaporthe foeniculina, Neofusicoccum australe, N. luteum, N. mediterraneum, N. parvum, N. vitifusiforme and Valsa fabianae. Two putative new species of Cytospora were also identified. Neofusicoccum australe was the only species recovered from all 12 sites, with isolation frequencies of 51-95%. Pathogenicity trials revealed that all Neofusicoccum species except N. vitifusiforme are directly involved in the etiology of the observed decline in the E. camaldulensis population on Sardinia.
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