Widespread Distribution of Fungivorus Aphelenchoides spp. in Blight Cankers on American Chestnut Trees

G. J. Griffin, J. D. Eisenback, K. Oldham


Previously we showed in laboratory studies that the fungivorus nematode, Aphelenchoides hylurgi, was attracted to and fed upon the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica, from American chestnut bark cankers and was a carrier of biocontrol, white hypovirulent C. parasitica strains. In the present field study, we recovered Aphelenchoides spp. in almost all (97.0 %) of 133 blight canker tissue assays (three 5-g samples each) from four eastern states. High mean population densities (227 to 474 nematodes per 5 g tissue) of Aphelenchoides spp. were recovered from cankers in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee but not from New Hampshire (mean = 75 nematodes per 5 g tissue). Overall, most canker assays yielded population densities less than 200 nematodes per 5 g tissue. All of 12 very small or young cankers yielded a few to many Aphelenchoides spp. Regression analysis indicated greatest recovery of Aphelenchoides spp. occurred in the month of May (r = 0.94). The results indicate that Aphelenchoides spp. appear to be widespread in blight cankers on American chestnut trees and could play a role in biocontrol of chestnut blight.

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