Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Impairment of leaf hydraulics in young plants of Citrus aurantium (sour orange) infected by Phoma tracheiphila

Fabio Raimondo A , Francesco Raudino B , Santa Olga Cacciola C , Sebastiano Salleo D and Maria Assunta Lo Gullo A E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Dipartimento di Scienze Botaniche, Università di Messina, Salita Sperone 31, 98166 Messina S. Agata, Italy.

B Dipartimento di Gestione dei Sistemi Agrari e Forestali, Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria, Località Feo di Vito, 89060 Reggio Calabria, Italy.

C Dipartimento di Scienze Entomologiche, Fitopatologiche, Microbiologiche agrarie e Zootecniche, Università di Palermo, viale delle Scienze 2, 90128 Palermo, Italy.

D Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Trieste, Via L. Giorgieri 10, 34127 Trieste, Italy.

E Corresponding author. Email: mlogullo@unime.it

Functional Plant Biology 34(8) 720-729 https://doi.org/10.1071/FP07065
Submitted: 14 March 2007  Accepted: 31 May 2007   Published: 23 July 2007

Abstract

Phoma trachephila (Petri) Kantschaveli et Gikachvili causes dieback of several Citrus species. The impact of this fungus on leaf hydraulics was studied in Citrus aurantium L. (sour orange) with the aim of identifying the primary mechanism of damage to leaves. Leaves inoculated with a conidial suspension were measured for conductance to water vapor (gL) and specific hydraulic conductance (Kleaf) every 3 days after inoculation. The earliest symptom of infection consisted of vein chlorosis. Functional vein density (FVD) was monitored and microscopic observations were made of major vein conduits. Impairment of vein hydraulics started 25 days after inoculation with a losses of Kleaf of 40% and gL of ~60%. Most minor veins within chlorotic areas were no longer functioning and some conduits of the major veins showed digested interconduit pits leading to vein cavitation. The close Kleaf–FVD relationship revealed that vein impairment caused drop of Kleaf and, consequently, of gL at chlorotic areas. Leaf infection was focused to veins that were first forced to embolise and then invaded by fungal hyphae. The vein embolism due to the Phoma amplifies the native dominant hydraulic resistance of leaf veins, and leads ultimately to early shedding of infected leaves.

Additional keywords: leaf water relations, vein cavitation.


Acknowledgements

We thank Professor G. Magnano di San Lio for critical reading of the manuscript.


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