Simulated Summer Rainfall Variability Effects on Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) Seedling Physiology and Susceptibility to Root-Infecting Ophiostomatoid Fungi
Seedlings from four families of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) were grown in capped open-top chambers and exposed to three different weekly moisture regimes for 13 weeks. Moisture regimes varied in intensity and frequency of simulated rainfall (irrigation) events; however, the total amounts were comparable. These simulated treatments were chosen to simulate expected changes in rainfall variability associated with climate change. Seedlings were inoculated with two root-infecting ophiostomatoid fungi associated with Southern Pine Decline. We found susceptibility of loblolly pine was not affected by water stress; however, one family that was most sensitive to inoculation was also most sensitive to changes in moisture availability. Many studies have examined the effects of drought (well-watered vs. dry conditions) on pine physiology and host-pathogen interactions but little is known about variability in moisture supply. This study aimed to elucidate the effects of variability in water availability, pathogen inoculation and their interaction on physiology of loblolly pine seedlings.