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1.  Pathogenesis in Pine Wilt Caused by Pinewood Nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus 
Journal of Nematology  1988;20(2):236-244.
The progression of events in the development of pine wilt disease following the invasion by Bursaphelenchus xylophilus is reviewed from early migration through pine tissues until symptom development on foliage. Disease resistance in pines, especially the hypersensitive reaction that is successful in controlling many potential pests and pathogens, is explored. Pathologies resulting from the activities of pinewood nematode include cortical trails and cavities; formation of cambial gaps and traumatic resin cysts; browning and death of cortex, phloem, cambium, and ray tissues; granulation and shrinkage of cell cytoplasm in rays; and destruction of resin canal epithelial and ray parenchyma cells. Death of parenchyma, production of toxins, and leakage of oleoresins and other material into tracheids are typical of the hypersensitive reaction occurring in pines following migration of small numbers of pinewood nematodes. The hypothesis presented is that a spreading hypersensitive reaction results in some of the observed pathologies and symptoms and eventually causes pine death. The growth-differentiation balance hypothesis is used to help explain predisposition, oleoresin production and toxicity, susceptibility and resistance, and the effects of variation in climate on host pines as related to pinewilt disease.
PMCID: PMC2618809  PMID: 19290207
Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; pathogenesis; pathology; pine wilt disease; pinewood nematode
2.  A rapid decrease in temperature induces latewood formation in artificially reactivated cambium of conifer stems 
Annals of Botany  2012;110(4):875-885.
Background and Aims
Latewood formation in conifers occurs during the later part of the growing season, when the cell division activity of the cambium declines. Changes in temperature might be important for wood formation in trees. Therefore, the effects of a rapid decrease in temperature on cellular morphology of tracheids were investigated in localized heating-induced cambial reactivation in Cryptomeria japonica trees and in Abies firma seedlings.
Electric heating tape and heating ribbon were wrapped on the stems of C. japonica trees and A. firma seedlings. Heating was discontinued when 11 or 12 and eight or nine radial files of differentiating and differentiated tracheids had been produced in C. japonica and A. firma stems, respectively. Tracheid diameter, cell wall thickness, percentage of cell wall area and percentage of lumen area were determined by image analysis of transverse sections and scanning electron microscopy.
Key Results
Localized heating induced earlier cambial reactivation and xylem differentiation in stems of C. japonica and A. firma as compared with non-heated stems. One week after cessation of heating, there were no obvious changes in the dimensions of the differentiating tracheids in the samples from adult C. japonica. In contrast, tracheids with a smaller diameter were observed in A. firma seedlings after 1 week of cessation of heating. Two or three weeks after cessation of heating, tracheids with reduced diameters and thickened cell walls were found. The results showed that the rapid decrease in temperature produced slender tracheids with obvious thickening of cell walls that resembled latewood cells.
The results suggest that a localized decrease in temperature of stems induces changes in the diameter and cell wall thickness of differentiating tracheids, indicating that cambium and its derivatives can respond directly to changes in temperature.
PMCID: PMC3423807  PMID: 22843340
Cambial activity; conifers; latewood formation; morphology of tracheids; rapid decrease in temperature
3.  Effect of Local Heating and Cooling on Cambial Activity and Cell Differentiation in the Stem of Norway Spruce (Picea abies) 
Annals of Botany  2006;97(6):943-951.
• Background and Aims The effect of heating and cooling on cambial activity and cell differentiation in part of the stem of Norway spruce (Picea abies) was investigated.
• Methods A heating experiment (23–25 °C) was carried out in spring, before normal reactivation of the cambium, and cooling (9–11 °C) at the height of cambial activity in summer. The cambium, xylem and phloem were investigated by means of light- and transmission electron microscopy and UV-microspectrophotometry in tissues sampled from living trees.
• Key Results Localized heating for 10 d initiated cambial divisions on the phloem side and after 20 d also on the xylem side. In a control tree, regular cambial activity started after 30 d. In the heat-treated sample, up to 15 earlywood cells undergoing differentiation were found to be present. The response of the cambium to stem cooling was less pronounced, and no anatomical differences were detected between the control and cool-treated samples after 10 or 20 d. After 30 d, latewood started to form in the sample exposed to cooling. In addition, almost no radially expanding tracheids were observed and the cambium consisted of only five layers of cells. Low temperatures reduced cambial activity, as indicated by the decreased proportion of latewood. On the phloem side, no alterations were observed among cool-treated and non-treated samples.
• Conclusions Heating and cooling can influence cambial activity and cell differentiation in Norway spruce. However, at the ultrastructural and topochemical levels, no changes were observed in the pattern of secondary cell-wall formation and lignification or in lignin structure, respectively.
PMCID: PMC2803384  PMID: 16613904
Norway spruce; Picea abies; cambium; xylem; phloem; cell differentiation; heating; cooling; light microscopy; transmission electron microscopy; UV-microspectrophotometry
4.  Relative Susceptibility of Four Pine Species to Infection by Pinewood Nematode 
Journal of Nematology  1987;19(1):44-50.
Mature trees of eastern white, jack, Scotch, and shortleaf pines were inoculated with 25,000-34,000 pinewood nematodes, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, isolated from infected Scotch pines in Missouri. Equal numbers of trees of each species inoculated with distilled water served as controls. Nine of fifteen Scotch pines died within 4 months of nematode infection or during the winter and early spring following infection. A single eastern white and shortleaf pine died. No jack pines died. A single Scotch pine control died, apparently the result of natural nematode infection. No other controls died. Mean oleoresin flow did not differ among nematode-inoculated jack and shortleaf pines and their respective controls. Oleoresin flow in nematode-inoculated eastern white and Scotch pines was significantly lower than in their controls. Oleoresin flow was temporarily reduced in mortality-resistant eastern white and Scotch pines following nematode infection. Thus a sublethal impact of nematode infection on mortality-resistant host trees was documented.
PMCID: PMC2618611  PMID: 19290105
Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; Monochamus carolinensis; mortality; oleoresin; pinewood nematode; Pinus banksiana; Pinus echinata; Pinus strobus; Pinus sylvestris; resistance
5.  Changes in the localization and levels of starch and lipids in cambium and phloem during cambial reactivation by artificial heating of main stems of Cryptomeria japonica trees 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(6):885-895.
Background and Aims
Cambial reactivation in trees occurs from late winter to early spring when photosynthesis is minimal or almost non-existent. Reserve materials might be important for wood formation in trees. The localization and approximate levels of starch and lipids (as droplets) and number of starch granules in cambium and phloem were examined from cambial dormancy to the start of xylem differentiation in locally heated stems of Cryptomeria japonica trees in winter.
Electric heating tape was wrapped on one side of the stem of Cryptomeria japonica trees at breast height in winter. The localization and approximate levels of starch and lipids (as droplets) and number of starch granules were determined by image analysis of optical digital images obtained by confocal laser scanning microscopy.
Key Results
Localized heating induced earlier cambial reactivation and xylem differentiation in stems of Cryptomeria japonica, as compared with non-heated stems. There were clear changes in the respective localizations and levels of starch and lipids (as droplets) determined in terms of relative areas on images, from cambial dormancy to the start of xylem differentiation in heated stems. In heated stems, the levels and number of starch granules fell from cambial reactivation to the start of xylem differentiation. There was a significant decrease in the relative area occupied by lipid droplets in the cambium from cambial reactivation to the start of xylem differentiation in heated stems.
The results showed clearly that the levels and number of storage starch granules in cambium and phloem cells and levels of lipids (as droplets) in the cambium decreased from cambial reactivation to the start of xylem differentiation in heated stems during the winter. The observations suggest that starch and lipid droplets might be needed as sources of energy for the initiation of cambial cell division and the differentiation of xylem in Cryptomeria japonica.
PMCID: PMC2990657  PMID: 21037242
Cambial reactivation; confocal laser scanning microscopy; Cryptomeria japonica; lipid; starch; xylem differentiation
6.  Pathogenicity of Bursaphelenchus xylophilus on Pines in Minnesota and Wisconsin 
Journal of Nematology  1986;18(1):44-49.
The pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, was inoculated into established native jack and red pines (Pinus banksiana and P. resinosa) and exotic Austrian pine (P. nigra) in Minnesota and Wisconsin forests during summer 1981. The nematode isolates did not kill established nonstressed pine trees growing in the forest. However, the same nematode isolates killed pine seedlings under greenhouse conditions. Girdling the main stem of some trees to induce stress resulted in the death of the majority of inoculated and noninoculated branches of Austrian and jack pines, but no branch death was observed on red pine. Greater numbers of nematodes were extracted from branches of inoculated, girdled trees than from nongirdled trees. The mean number of nematodes extracted from branches of inoculated, nongirdled trees was 0.3 - 14 nematodes per gram of wood.
PMCID: PMC2618501  PMID: 19294138
pinewood nematode; Pinus banksiana; P. resinosa; P. nigra
7.  Cambial activity related to tree size in a mature silver-fir plantation 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(3):429-438.
Background and Aims
Our knowledge about the influences of environmental factors on tree growth is principally based on the study of dominant trees. However, tree social status may influence intra-annual dynamics of growth, leading to differential responses to environmental conditions. The aim was to determine whether within-stand differences in stem diameters of trees belonging to different crown classes resulted from variations in the length of the growing period or in the rate of cell production.
Cambial activity was monitored weekly in 2006 for three crown classes in a 40-year-old silver-fir (Abies alba) plantation near Nancy (France). Timings, duration and rate of tracheid production were assessed from anatomical observations of the developing xylem.
Key Results
Cambial activity started earlier, stopped later and lasted longer in dominant trees than in intermediate and suppressed ones. The onset of cambial activity was estimated to have taken 3 weeks to spread to 90 % of the trees in the stand, while the cessation needed 6 weeks. Cambial activity was more intense in dominant trees than in intermediate and suppressed ones. It was estimated that about 75 % of tree-ring width variability was attributable to the rate of cell production and only 25 % to its duration. Moreover, growth duration was correlated to tree height, while growth rate was better correlated to crown area.
These results show that, in a closed conifer forest, stem diameter variations resulted principally from differences in the rate of xylem cell production rather than in its duration. Tree size interacts with environmental factors to control the timings, duration and rate of cambial activity through functional processes involving source–sink relationships principally, but also hormonal controls.
PMCID: PMC3158687  PMID: 21816842
Cambial activity; forest-stand structure; silver fir (Abies alba); tree-ring formation; tree-to-tree competition; social status; wood anatomy; xylem cell differentiation
8.  Induction of Cambial Reactivation by Localized Heating in a Deciduous Hardwood Hybrid Poplar (Populus sieboldii × P. grandidentata) 
Annals of Botany  2007;100(3):439-447.
Background and Aims
The timing of cambial reactivation plays an important role in the control of both the quantity and the quality of wood. The effect of localized heating on cambial reactivation in the main stem of a deciduous hardwood hybrid poplar (Populus sieboldii × P. grandidentata) was investigated.
Electric heating tape (20–22 °C) was wrapped at one side of the main stem of cloned hybrid poplar trees at breast height in winter. Small blocks were collected from both heated and non-heated control portions of the stem for sequential observations of cambial activity and for studies of the localization of storage starch around the cambium from dormancy to reactivation by light microscopy.
Key Results
Cell division in phloem began earlier than cambial reactivation in locally heated portions of stems. Moreover, the cambial reactivation induced by localized heating occurred earlier than natural cambial reactivation. In heated stems, well-developed secondary xylem was produced that had almost the same structure as the natural xylem. When cambial reactivation was induced by heating, the buds of trees had not yet burst, indicating that there was no close temporal relationship between bud burst and cambial reactivation. In heated stems, the amount of storage starch decreased near the cambium upon reactivation of the cambium. After cambial reactivation, storage starch disappeared completely. Storage starch appeared again, near the cambium, during xylem differentiation in heated stems.
The results suggest that, in deciduous diffuse-porous hardwood poplar growing in a temperate zone, the temperature in the stem is a limiting factor for reactivation of phloem and cambium. An increase in temperature might induce the conversion of storage starch to sucrose for the activation of cambial cell division and secondary xylem. Localized heating in poplar stems provides a useful experimental system for studies of cambial biology.
PMCID: PMC2533603  PMID: 17621596
Populus sieboldii × Populus grandidentata; localized heating, cambial reactivation; model system; storage starch; xylem differentiation
9.  Cambial Activity and Intra-annual Xylem Formation in Roots and Stems of Abies balsamea and Picea mariana 
Annals of Botany  2008;102(5):667-674.
Background and Aims
Studies on xylogenesis focus essentially on the stem, whereas there is basically no information about the intra-annual growth of other parts of the tree. As roots strongly influence carbon allocation and tree development, knowledge of the dynamics of xylem production and maturation in roots at a short time scale is required for a better understanding of the phenomenon of tree growth. This study compared cambial activity and xylem formation in stem and roots in two conifers of the boreal forest in Canada.
Wood microcores were collected weekly in stem and roots of ten Abies balsamea and ten Picea mariana during the 2004–2006 growing seasons. Cross-sections were cut using a rotary microtome, stained with cresyl violet acetate and observed under visible and polarized light. The number of cells in the cambial zone and in differentiation, plus the number of mature cells, was counted along the developing xylem.
Key Results
Xylem formation lasted from the end of May to the end of September, with no difference between stem and roots in 2004–2005. On the contrary, in 2006 a 1-week earlier beginning of cell differentiation was observed in the stem, with cell wall thickening and lignification in roots ending up to 22 d later than in the stem. Cell production in the stem was concentrated early in the season, in June, while most cell divisions in roots occurred 1 month later.
The intra-annual dynamics of growth observed in stem and roots could be related to the different amount of cells produced by the cambium and the patterns of air and soil temperature occurring in spring.
PMCID: PMC2712372  PMID: 18708643
Abies balsamea; boreal forest; cambium; cell differentiation; cell wall thickening; lignification; Picea mariana; root; stem; xylem
10.  Impact of drought on the temporal dynamics of wood formation in Pinus sylvestris 
Tree physiology  2010;30(4):490-501.
We determined the temporal dynamics of cambial activity and xylem cell differentiation of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) within a dry inner Alpine valley (750 m asl, Tyrol, Austria), where radial growth is strongly limited by drought in spring. Repeated micro-sampling of the developing tree ring of mature trees was carried out during 2 contrasting years at two study plots that differ in soil water availability (xeric and dry-mesic site).
In 2007, when air temperature at the beginning of the growing season in April exceeded the long-term mean by 6.4 °C, cambial cell division started in early April at both study plots. A delayed onset of cambial activity of c. 2 wk was found in 2008, when average climate conditions prevailed in spring, indicating that resumption of cambial cell division after winter dormancy is temperature-controlled. Cambial cell division consistently ended about the end of June/early July in both study years. Radial enlargement of tracheids started almost 3 wk earlier in 2007 compared with 2008 at both study plots. At the xeric site, the maximum rate of tracheid production in 2007 and 2008 was reached in early and mid-May, respectively, and c. 2 wk later, at the dry-mesic site. Since in both study years, more favorable growing conditions (i.e., an increase in soil water content) were recorded during summer, we suggest a strong sink competition for carbohydrates to mycorrhizal root and shoot growth. Wood formation stopped c. 4 wk earlier at the xeric compared with the dry-mesic site in both years, indicating a strong influence of drought stress on cell differentiation. This is supported by radial widths of earlywood cells, which were found to be significantly narrower at the xeric than at the dry-mesic site (P < 0.05).
Repeated cellular analyses during the two growing seasons revealed that, although spatial variability in the dynamics and duration of cell differentiation processes in Pinus sylvestris exposed to drought is strongly influenced by water availability, the onset of cambial activity and cell differentiation is controlled by temperature.
PMCID: PMC3046340  PMID: 20197285
Cambium; dry inner Alpine valley; intra-annual growth; Scots pine; tracheid production; xylogenesis
11.  Molecular Characterization and Development of Real-Time PCR Assay for Pine-Wood Nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus (Nematoda: Parasitaphelenchidae) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e78804.
Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, the pine-wood nematode (PWN), is the causal agent of pine wilt disease, one of the most damaging emerging pest problems to forests around the world. It is native to North America where it causes relatively minor damage to native conifers but is labeled an EPPO-A-2 pest and a quarantine nematode for many countries outside of the United States because of its potential for destruction to their native conifers. Exports of wood logs and commodities involving softwood packaging materials now require a lab test for the presence/absence of this regulated nematode species. We characterized the DNA sequences on the ribosomal DNA small subunit, large subunit D2/D3, internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase subunit one on the aphelenchid species and described the development of a real-time-PCR method for rapid and accurate identification of PWN targeting the ITS-1. A total of 97 nematode populations were used to evaluate the specificity and sensitivity of this assay, including 45 populations of B. xylophilus and 36 populations of 21 other species of Bursaphelenchus which belong to the abietinus, cocophilus, eggersi, fungivorus, hofmanni, kevini, leoni, sexdentati, and xylophilus groups and one unassigned group from a total of 13 groups in the genus Bursaphelenchus; 15 populations of Aphelenchoides besseyi, A. fragariae, Aphelenchoides species and Aphelenchus avenae; and one population of mixed nematode species from a soil sample. This assay proved to be specific to B. xylophilus only and was sensitive to a single nematode specimen regardless of the life stages present. This approach provides rapid species identification necessary to comply with the zero-tolerance export regulations.
PMCID: PMC3823978  PMID: 24244367
12.  New Insights into the Phylogeny and Worldwide Dispersion of Two Closely Related Nematode Species, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus and Bursaphelenchus mucronatus 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56288.
The pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, is one of the greatest threats to coniferous forests worldwide, causing severe ecological damage and economic loss. The biology of B. xylophilus is similar to that of its closest relative, B. mucronatus, as both species share food resources and insect vectors, and have very similar morphological characteristics, although little pathogenicity to conifers has been associated with B. mucronatus. Using both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers, we show that B. xylophilus and B. mucronatus form distinct phylogenetic groups with contrasting phylogeographic patterns. B. xylophilus presents lower levels of intraspecific diversity than B. mucronatus, as expected for a species that evolved relatively recently through geographical or reproductive isolation. Genetic diversity was particularly low in recently colonised areas, such as in southwestern Europe. By contrast, B. mucronatus displays high levels of genetic diversity and two well-differentiated clades in both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA phylogenies. The lack of correlation between genetic and geographic distances in B. mucronatus suggests intense gene flow among distant regions, a phenomenon that may have remained unnoticed due to the reduced pathogenicity of the species. Overall, our findings suggest that B. xylophilus and B. mucronatus have different demographic histories despite their morphological resemblance and ecological overlap. These results suggest that Bursaphelenchus species are a valuable model for understanding the dispersion of invasive species and the risks posed to native biodiversity and ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC3568074  PMID: 23409167
13.  Immunolocalization indicates plasmodesmal trafficking of storage proteins during cambial reactivation in Populus nigra 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(3):385-394.
Background and Aims
Cambium reactivation after dormancy and budbreak in deciduous trees requires a supply of mobilized reserve materials. The pathway and mode of transfer of these materials are poorly understood.
Transport of reserve materials during cambium reactivation in Populus nigra was investigated by conventional and immunocytochemical TEM analyses, SDS–PAGE, western blotting and intracellular microinjection of fluorescent dyes.
Key Results
Proteinaceous compounds stored in vacuoles and protein bodies of vascular cells and ray cells disappeared within 3 weeks after cambial reactivation and budbreak. Some of these proteins (32 kDa, 30 kDa and 15 kDa) were labelled by lectin antibodies in SDS–PAGE. The same antibodies were localized to plasmodesmata (PDs) between phloem parenchyma, ray cells and fusiform cambial cells. In addition, proteinaceous particles were localized inside the cytoplasmic sleeves of these PDs during budbreak. During this period, the functional diameter of PDs was about 2·2 nm which corresponds approximately to the Stokes' radius of the detected 15-kDa protein.
Lectin-like reserve proteins or their degradation products seem to be transferred through PDs of phloem parenchyma and rays during cambial reactivation and budbreak. PD transfer of storage proteins is a novelty which supports the concept of symplasmic nutrient supply to the cambial region.
PMCID: PMC2924828  PMID: 20584737
Cambial region; lectins; plasmodesmal trafficking; Populus nigra ‘italica’; size exclusion limit; storage proteins; vascular tissues
14.  Decline and Death of Pinus spp. in Delaware Caused by Bursaphelenchus xylophilus 
Journal of Nematology  1982;14(3):382-385.
Etiological studies to determine the cause of decline and death of Pinus spp. in Delaware were initiated in 1980. The pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, was found to be the major canse of mortality in Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii). When inoculated into healthy 5-yr-old Japanese black pines, B. xylophilus produced typical decline symptoms observed in the field. The xylophilous fungi most often associated with declining trees, Rhizosphaera pini, Fusarium spp., and Pestalotia funerea, were not pathogenic to Japanese black pine in greenhouse tests. Mineral analyses of soil and foliage showed no significant differences between healthy and infested trees. B. xylolyhilus was also found on loblolly pine (P. taeda), scrub pine (P. virginiana), Scots pine (P. sylvestris), red pine (P. resinosa), Eastern white pine (P. strobus), and pitch pine (P. rigida).
PMCID: PMC2618183  PMID: 19295726
pinewood nematode; Japanese black pine
15.  Pathogenicity of the pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, to Japanese larch, Larix kaempferi, seedlings 
Journal of Nematology  2009;41(2):157-162.
Pathogenicity of the pine wood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, to Japanese larch, Larix kaempferi, seedlings was tested with inoculation experiments under nursery conditions. Water suspensions of nematodes (mixed stages cultured on Botrytis cinerea or dispersal fourth-stage juveniles (DJ4) extracted from the adult Japanese pine sawyer, Monochamus alternatus) were injected into the stems of 2- and 3-year-old Japanese larch and Japanese black pine, Pinus thunbergii, seedlings growing in a nursery. In another treatment, Japanese pine sawyer adults holding DJ4 were released under a net that covered the upper half of the seedlings. Regardless of nematode inoculation method, Japanese larch seedlings were as susceptible as Japanese black pine seedlings to B. xylophilus under nursery conditions. The rate of disease development was similar on larch and pine seedlings. Nematode population densities were lower in the stems of dead larch seedlings than in the stems of dead pine seedlings. Histopathological observations revealed that the distribution of nematodes in the stems of dead larch seedlings was mostly limited to the cortex, phloem and cambial zone. Traumatic resin canal formation was one of the most characteristic symptoms in larch seedlings which was dissimilar to that in pine seedlings.
PMCID: PMC3365316  PMID: 22661789
Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; inoculation; Larix kaempferi; maturation feeding; Monochamus alternatus; pathogenicity; Pinus thunbergii
16.  First Insights into the Genetic Diversity of the Pinewood Nematode in Its Native Area Using New Polymorphic Microsatellite Loci 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59165.
The pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, native to North America, is the causative agent of pine wilt disease and among the most important invasive forest pests in the East-Asian countries, such as Japan and China. Since 1999, it has been found in Europe in the Iberian Peninsula, where it also causes significant damage. In a previous study, 94 pairs of microsatellite primers have been identified in silico in the pinewood nematode genome. In the present study, specific PCR amplifications and polymorphism tests to validate these loci were performed and 17 microsatellite loci that were suitable for routine analysis of B. xylophilus genetic diversity were selected. The polymorphism of these markers was evaluated on nematodes from four field origins and one laboratory collection strain, all originate from the native area. The number of alleles and the expected heterozygosity varied between 2 and 11 and between 0.039 and 0.777, respectively. First insights into the population genetic structure of B. xylophilus were obtained using clustering and multivariate methods on the genotypes obtained from the field samples. The results showed that the pinewood nematode genetic diversity is spatially structured at the scale of the pine tree and probably at larger scales. The role of dispersal by the insect vector versus human activities in shaping this structure is discussed.
PMCID: PMC3598798  PMID: 23554990
17.  Searching for resistance genes to Bursaphelenchus xylophilus using high throughput screening 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:599.
Pine wilt disease (PWD), caused by the pinewood nematode (PWN; Bursaphelenchus xylophilus), damages and kills pine trees and is causing serious economic damage worldwide. Although the ecological mechanism of infestation is well described, the plant’s molecular response to the pathogen is not well known. This is due mainly to the lack of genomic information and the complexity of the disease. High throughput sequencing is now an efficient approach for detecting the expression of genes in non-model organisms, thus providing valuable information in spite of the lack of the genome sequence. In an attempt to unravel genes potentially involved in the pine defense against the pathogen, we hereby report the high throughput comparative sequence analysis of infested and non-infested stems of Pinus pinaster (very susceptible to PWN) and Pinus pinea (less susceptible to PWN).
Four cDNA libraries from infested and non-infested stems of P. pinaster and P. pinea were sequenced in a full 454 GS FLX run, producing a total of 2,083,698 reads. The putative amino acid sequences encoded by the assembled transcripts were annotated according to Gene Ontology, to assign Pinus contigs into Biological Processes, Cellular Components and Molecular Functions categories. Most of the annotated transcripts corresponded to Picea genes-25.4-39.7%, whereas a smaller percentage, matched Pinus genes, 1.8-12.8%, probably a consequence of more public genomic information available for Picea than for Pinus. The comparative transcriptome analysis showed that when P. pinaster was infested with PWN, the genes malate dehydrogenase, ABA, water deficit stress related genes and PAR1 were highly expressed, while in PWN-infested P. pinea, the highly expressed genes were ricin B-related lectin, and genes belonging to the SNARE and high mobility group families. Quantitative PCR experiments confirmed the differential gene expression between the two pine species.
Defense-related genes triggered by nematode infestation were detected in both P. pinaster and P. pinea transcriptomes utilizing 454 pyrosequencing technology. P. pinaster showed higher abundance of genes related to transcriptional regulation, terpenoid secondary metabolism (including some with nematicidal activity) and pathogen attack. P. pinea showed higher abundance of genes related to oxidative stress and higher levels of expression in general of stress responsive genes. This study provides essential information about the molecular defense mechanisms utilized by P. pinaster and P. pinea against PWN infestation and contributes to a better understanding of PWD.
PMCID: PMC3542250  PMID: 23134679
18.  Effects of climate variables on intra-annual stem radial increment in Pinus cembra (L.) along the alpine treeline ecotone 
Annals of forest science  2009;66(5):503.
Within the alpine treeline ecotone tree growth is increasingly restricted by extreme climate conditions. Although intra-annual stem growth recorded by dendrometers can be linked to climate, stem diameter increments in slow-growing subalpine trees are masked by changes in tree water status.We tested the hypothesis that intra-annual radial stem growth in Pinus cembra is influenced by different climate variables along the treeline ecotone in the Austrian Alps. Dendrometer traces were compared with dynamics of xylem cell development to date onset of cambial activity and radial stem growth in spring.Daily fluctuations in stem radius reflected changes in tree water status throughout the treeline ecotone. Extracted daily radial increments were significantly correlated with air temperature at the timberline and treeline only, where budburst, cambial activity and enlargement of first tracheids also occurred quite similarly. A close relationship was detected between radial increment and number of enlarging tracheids throughout the treeline ecotone.We conclude that (i) the relationship between climate and radial stem growth within the treeline ecotone is dependent on a close coupling to atmospheric climate conditions and (ii) initiation of cambial activity and radial growth in spring can be distinguished from stem re-hydration by histological analysis.
PMCID: PMC3059571  PMID: 21423861
dendrometer; Pinus cembra; radial increment; treeline ecotone; xylem formation
19.  Transcriptome profiling of radiata pine branches reveals new insights into reaction wood formation with implications in plant gravitropism 
BMC Genomics  2013;14(1):768.
Formation of compression (CW) and opposite wood (OW) in branches and bent trunks is an adaptive feature of conifer trees in response to various displacement forces, such as gravity, wind, snow and artificial bending. Several previous studies have characterized tracheids, wood and gene transcription in artificially or naturally bent conifer trunks. These studies have provided molecular basis of reaction wood formation in response to bending forces and gravity stimulus. However, little is known about reaction wood formation and gene transcription in conifer branches under gravity stress. In this study SilviScan® technology was used to characterize tracheid and wood traits in radiate pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) branches and genes differentially transcribed in CW and OW were investigated using cDNA microarrays.
CW drastically differed from OW in tracheids and wood traits with increased growth, thicker tracheid walls, larger microfibril angle (MFA), higher density and lower stiffness. However, CW and OW tracheids had similar diameters in either radial or tangential direction. Thus, gravity stress largely influenced wood growth, secondary wall deposition, cellulose microfibril orientation and wood properties, but had little impact on primary wall expansion. Microarray gene transcription revealed about 29% of the xylem transcriptomes were significantly altered in CW and OW sampled in both spring and autumn, providing molecular evidence for the drastic variation in tracheid and wood traits. Genes involved in cell division, cellulose biosynthesis, lignin deposition, and microtubules were mostly up-regulated in CW, conferring its greater growth, thicker tracheid walls, higher density, larger MFA and lower stiffness. However, genes with roles in cell expansion and primary wall formation were differentially transcribed in CW and OW, respectively, implicating their similar diameters of tracheid walls and different tracheid lengths. Interestingly, many genes related to hormone and calcium signalling as well as various environmental stresses were exclusively up-regulated in CW, providing important clues for earlier molecular signatures of reaction wood formation under gravity stimulus.
The first comprehensive investigation of tracheid characteristics, wood properties and gene transcription in branches of a conifer species revealed more accurate and new insights into reaction wood formation in response to gravity stress. The identified differentially transcribed genes with diverse functions conferred or implicated drastic CW and OW variation observed in radiata pine branches. These genes are excellent candidates for further researches on the molecular mechanisms of reaction wood formation with a view to plant gravitropism.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-768) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4046691  PMID: 24209714
Compression wood; Tracheid; Conifers; Transcriptome; Microarray; Plant gravitropism; Microfibril angle (MFA); Wood stiffness
20.  Scanning Electron Microscopy of Pine Seedling Wood Tissue Sections Inoculated with the Pinewood Nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus Previously Prepared for Light Microscopy 
Journal of Nematology  2012;44(3):255-259.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was applied to paraffin-embedded wood sections to study the histopathology of pine seedlings inoculated with the pinewood nematode (PWN), Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. The sections, which had been previously prepared and observed by light microscopy (LM) on glass slides, were originally obtained from experiments in which pine seedlings had been inoculated with PWN. The cover glass was removed by soaking the glass slide in xylene for 3 to 5 days. The glass slides were cut into small pieces so that each piece contained one wood section. Each piece of the glass slide was attached with double adhesive tape to an aluminum stub. The specimens were sputter-coated with gold and examined with a scanning electron microscope (JEOL-JSM 5200). Compared to LM (as documented in previous reports) SEM provided greater depth of focus and resolution of the damaged wood tissues, nematodes and associated bacteria. SEM made it possible to observe the relationship between bacterial distribution and nematode distribution in wood tissues. SEM observations also suggested the possibility of documenting the death of ray cells and other parenchyma cells in relation to disease development. Finally, the current study of PWN in pine seedlings demonstrated that glass slides prepared for LM observations more than 25 years earlier could be successfully processed for examination by SEM.
PMCID: PMC3547340  PMID: 23481606
bacterial mass; inoculation experiments; Pinus sp.; scanning electron microscopy; technique
21.  A meta-analysis of cambium phenology and growth: linear and non-linear patterns in conifers of the northern hemisphere 
Annals of Botany  2013;112(9):1911-1920.
Background and Aims
Ongoing global warming has been implicated in shifting phenological patterns such as the timing and duration of the growing season across a wide variety of ecosystems. Linear models are routinely used to extrapolate these observed shifts in phenology into the future and to estimate changes in associated ecosystem properties such as net primary productivity. Yet, in nature, linear relationships may be special cases. Biological processes frequently follow more complex, non-linear patterns according to limiting factors that generate shifts and discontinuities, or contain thresholds beyond which responses change abruptly. This study investigates to what extent cambium phenology is associated with xylem growth and differentiation across conifer species of the northern hemisphere.
Xylem cell production is compared with the periods of cambial activity and cell differentiation assessed on a weekly time scale on histological sections of cambium and wood tissue collected from the stems of nine species in Canada and Europe over 1–9 years per site from 1998 to 2011.
Key Results
The dynamics of xylogenesis were surprisingly homogeneous among conifer species, although dispersions from the average were obviously observed. Within the range analysed, the relationships between the phenological timings were linear, with several slopes showing values close to or not statistically different from 1. The relationships between the phenological timings and cell production were distinctly non-linear, and involved an exponential pattern
The trees adjust their phenological timings according to linear patterns. Thus, shifts of one phenological phase are associated with synchronous and comparable shifts of the successive phases. However, small increases in the duration of xylogenesis could correspond to a substantial increase in cell production. The findings suggest that the length of the growing season and the resulting amount of growth could respond differently to changes in environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC3838565  PMID: 24201138
Cambium; cell differentiation; cell production; climate change; conifers; growth; meristem; phenology; productivity; secondary wall formation; xylogenesis
22.  Intra-annual dynamics of stem CO2 efflux in relation to cambial activity and xylem development in Pinus cembra 
Tree physiology  2009;29(5):641-649.
The relationship between stem CO2 efflux (ES), cambial activity and xylem production in Pinus cembra was determined at the timberline (1950 m a.s.l.) of the Central Austrian Alps, throughout one year. ES was measured continuously from June 2006 to August 2007 using an infrared gas-analysis system. Cambial activity and xylem production was determined by repeated microcore sampling of the developing tree ring and radial increment was monitored using automated point dendrometers. Aside of temperature, the number of living tracheids and cambial cells was predominantly responsible for ES: ES normalized to 10°C (ES10) was significantly correlated to number of living cells throughout the year (r2 = 0,574; p < 0,001). However, elevated ES and missing correlation between ES10 and xylem production was detected during cambial reactivation in April and during transition from active phase to rest, which occurred in August and lasted until early September. Results of this study indicate that (i) during seasonal variations in cambial activity non-linearity between ES and xylem production occurs and (ii) elevated metabolic activity during transition stages in the cambial activity-dormancy cycle influence the carbon budget of Pinus cembra. Daily radial stem increment was primarily influenced by the number of enlarging cells and was not correlated to ES.
PMCID: PMC3013296  PMID: 19203979
cambial reactivation; dormancy; Pinus cembra; radial stem growth; sap flow; stem CO2 efflux; stem respiration; xylem production
23.  Survival and Infectivity of Bursaphelenchus xylophilus in Wood Chip-Soil Mixtures 
Journal of Nematology  1992;24(4):495-503.
To determine the effect of soil environment on the life stages and total numbers of Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, nematode-infested wood chips alone and mixed with soil were incubated at 12 and 20 C. Nematodes were extracted at 2-week intervals for 12 weeks. Numbers of nematodes and percentage of third-stage dispersal larvae were greater at 12 C and in chips without soil. Percentage of juveniles of the propagative cycle was greater at 20 C and in chips with soil. Although B. xylophilus survived in chips with soil for 12 weeks, nematode numbers and life stage percentages changed little over time. To determine if B. xylophilus was capable of infecting wounded roots, infested and uninfested chips were mixed with soil in pots with white and Scots pine seedlings. Trees were maintained at 20 and 30 C and harvested at mortality or after 12 weeks. Only seedlings treated with infested chips contained nematodes. In field experiments, planted seedlings were mulched with infested chips to determine if nematodes would invade basal stem wounds. Among these trees, Scots pine was more susceptible than white or red pines to infection and mortality.
PMCID: PMC2619303  PMID: 19283027
Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; nematode; pine; pinewood nematode; Pinus strobus; P. sylvestris; root; soil; temperature; wood chip
24.  Characterization of Bacteria Associated with Pinewood Nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46661.
Pine wilt disease (PWD) is a complex disease integrating three major agents: the pathogenic agent, the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; the insect-vector Monochamus spp.; and the host pine tree, Pinus sp. Since the early 80's, the notion that another pathogenic agent, namely bacteria, may play a role in PWD has been gaining traction, however the role of bacteria in PWD is still unknown. The present work supports the possibility that some B. xylophilus-associated bacteria may play a significant role in the development of this disease. This is inferred as a consequence of: (i) the phenotypic characterization of a collection of 35 isolates of B. xylophilus-associated bacteria, in different tests broadly used to test plant pathogenic and plant growth promoting bacteria, and (ii) greenhouse experiments that infer the pathogenicity of these bacteria in maritime pine, Pinus pinaster. The results illustrate the presence of a heterogeneous microbial community associated with B. xylophilus and the traits exhibited by at least, some of these bacteria, appear to be related to PWD symptoms. The inoculation of four specific B. xylophilus-associated bacteria isolates in P. pinaster seedlings resulted in the development of some PWD symptoms suggesting that these bacteria likely play an active role with B. xylophilus in PWD.
PMCID: PMC3473040  PMID: 23091599
25.  Framework for Modelling Economic Impacts of Invasive Species, Applied to Pine Wood Nematode in Europe 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45505.
Economic impact assessment of invasive species requires integration of information on pest entry, establishment and spread, valuation of assets at risk and market consequences at large spatial scales. Here we develop such a framework and demonstrate its application to the pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, which threatens the European forestry industry. The effect of spatial resolution on the assessment result is analysed.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Direct economic impacts resulting from wood loss are computed using partial budgeting at regional scale, while impacts on social welfare are computed by a partial equilibrium analysis of the round wood market at EU scale. Substantial impacts in terms of infested stock are expected in Portugal, Spain, Southern France, and North West Italy but not elsewhere in EU in the near future. The cumulative value of lost forestry stock over a period of 22 years (2008–2030), assuming no regulatory control measures, is estimated at €22 billion. The greatest yearly loss of stock is expected to occur in the period 2014–2019, with a peak of three billion euros in 2016, but stabilizing afterwards at 300–800 million euros/year. The reduction in social welfare follows the loss of stock with considerable delay because the yearly harvest from the forest is only 1.8%. The reduction in social welfare for the downstream round wood market is estimated at €218 million in 2030, whereby consumers incur a welfare loss of €357 million, while producers experience a €139 million increase, due to higher wood prices. The societal impact is expected to extend to well beyond the time horizon of the analysis, and long after the invasion has stopped.
Pinewood nematode has large economic consequences for the conifer forestry industry in the EU. A change in spatial resolution affected the calculated directed losses by 24%, but did not critically affect conclusions.
PMCID: PMC3447758  PMID: 23029059

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