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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

The development of foliar fungal communities of nursery-grown Pinus sylvestris seedlings

Larsson, Rebecca; Menkis, Audrius; Skogstrom, Oskar; Espes, Carin; Brogren-Mohlin, Eva-Karin; Larsson, Martin; Olson, Ake


In forest nurseries, foliar fungi play a key role in the health of tree seedlings. The aim of this study was to study the diversity and the development of foliar fungal species associated with nursery-grown Pinus sylvestris, and to evaluate the effect of two biological control products and two growth-stimulating products on seedling growth and disease control, as well as seedling associated fungal community. The study was conducted at four Swedish forest nurseries. Fungal communities were assessed from non-symptomatic needles using high-throughput sequencing of the ITS2 rRNA region. The fungal pathogens Cladosporium sp. (15.1%), Phoma herbarum (14.5%), and Alternaria alternata (5.5%) were among the most abundant fungi. Results showed that the nurseries and the development of fungal communities influenced the occurrence of dominant fungal taxa. Disease prevalence was low and microbial treatments had no significant impact on seedling growth and survival, nor on the number of fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs), species diversity, and species evenness (p > 0.05). In conclusion, the results showed a dynamic change in foliar fungal community structure over the growing season. With appropriate nursery management strategies and under suitable climatic conditions, nursery seedlings can remain healthy even in the presence of fungal pathogens.


Botrytis cinerea; Cladosporium spp.; high-throughput sequencing; forest nursery; fungal pathogens; Phoma herbarum; scots pine needles

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2023, Volume: 38, number: 7-8, pages: 513-528