Early detection and identification of the main fungal pathogens for resistance evaluation of new genotypes of forest trees
The growing importance of forest plantations increases the demand for phytopathogen resistant forest trees. This study describes an effective method for early detection and identification of the main fungal phytopathogens in planting material of silver birch (Betula pendula) and downy birch (B. pubescens), based on the estimation of the size of the internal transcribed spacers (ITS1 and ITS2) in the 18S-5.8S-28S rDNA gene cluster, which are species-specific for most micromycetes. The electrophoretic assay of the ITS1 and ITS2 loci has allowed us to identify predominant phytopathogenic fungal species in downy and silver birch in planta. This new molecular genetic method can be used to screen birch and other forest trees for different fungal pathogens to evaluate disease resistance. This information can be useful in breeding new genotypes of forest trees, including transgenic clones with modified wood composition.