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Research article2006Peer reviewed

Frost related dieback in Estonian energy plantations of willows in relation to fertilisation and pathogenic bacteria

Cambours MA, Heinsoo K, Granhall U, Nejad P


Two 9-year old Estonian Salix plantations suffering from dieback were studied: one situated on poor mineral soil and divided into fertilised and unfertilised plots (Saare plantation) and another growing on a well-decomposed and nitrogen-rich organic soil, without fertiliser application (Kambja plantation). Bacteria from internal tissues of visually damaged shoots from seven clones were isolated in spring and autumn. The strains were subsequently biochemically characterised and tested for ice nucleation activity and pathogenicity on Salix. Some strains were also analysed with 16S rRNA. High numbers of culturable bacteria were found, belonging mainly to Erwinia, Sphingomonas, Pseudomonas and Xanthomonas spp. Fertilised plots were significantly more colonised by bacteria than unfertilised plots and also more extensively damaged, showing a lower density of living plants after 7 years of culture. More ice nucleation active (INA) strains were found in Saare fertilised plots and at Kambja than in Saare unfertilised plots. Likewise, most pathogenic strains were isolated from Saare fertilised plots and from Kambja. For some of the willow clones studied, dieback appeared to be related to both clonal frost sensitivity and abundance of INA and pathogenic bacteria. The plantations probably suffered from the presence of high amounts of pathogens and from frost related injuries aggravated by INA bacteria. Most probably the fertilisation at Saare and the nitrogen-rich soil at Kambja created a favourable environment for bacterial development and led to high dieback levels after the first harvest. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved


Salix; Frost damage; Fertilisation; Ice nucleations; Pathogenicity

Published in

Biomass and Bioenergy
2006, Volume: 30, number: 3, pages: 220-230