Biography

My research focuses on diseases in trees and shrubs, specifically on Phytophthora and fungal diseases in nurseries, forests, Christmas tree fields and urban green areas. I am also involved in Christmas tree improvement projects where the goal is to find superior Christmas trees for Norwegian conditions. In 2013, I completed my Master of Science in Forestry at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). In 2018, I achieved my PhD in Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and SLU. During my PhD, I worked on several projects on Phytophthora and fungal diseases in Christmas tree plantations together with researchers at NIBIO. Since August 2018, I have been working at the Department of Fungal Plant Pathology in Forestry, Agriculture and Horticulture at NIBIO.

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Abstract

Seedling blight caused by Sirococcus conigenus was recently reported on Norway spruce (Picea abies) from Norwegian forest nurseries. The inoculum source was found to be infected seeds. In a Petri dish assay, the fungicide fludioxonil + difenoconazole was, among other fungicides, found to inhibit mycelial growth of S. conigenus. This fungicide is formulated as a seed treatment and registered for cereals in Norway, and was chosen for an experiment to control S. conigenus on Norway spruce seeds. Samples from two naturally infected seed lots were treated with half, normal and double dose of the recommended rate for cereals. Together with untreated control samples, treated seeds were tested in the laboratory for efficacy against S. conigenus on potato dextrose agar (PDA) in Petri dishes and for germination potential on filter paper. We also recorded seed emergence in soil of one of the seed lots in a growth chamber and in a forest nursery. On agar, the fungus was not detected after seed treatment with fludioxonil + difenoconazole at any of the three dosages, but it was present in the control. Germination on filter paper and emergence in soil was high in both treated and untreated control seeds with no signs of detrimental effects from any of the three fungicide doses.

Abstract

Norway spruce (Picea abies) is a widely used Christmas tree species in the Nordic countries. Postharvest needle retention is an important characteristic for Christmas trees and compared to many fir (Abies) species, Norway spruce has poor postharvest needle retention. This trait is one of the most important qualities in choice of natural versus plastic trees. In this study, current year shoots were cut from 30 Norway spruce seedlot sources, including the most widely used Norwegian Christmas tree provenances, and tested to identify genetic variation in postharvest needle retention. Current year shoots were collected from one field in November and December 2018, and from three fields in October, November and December 2019. The current year shoots were displayed indoors under controlled conditions and allowed to dry. Differences in postharvest needle retention were seen between seedlots, harvesting dates and locations. Our study indicates possibilities of selecting for improved postharvest needle retention in Norway spruce seed sources. Furthermore, postharvest needle retention should be considered as one characteristic to add in the ongoing Norway spruce Christmas tree breeding program.

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Abstract

The fungus Neonectria fuckeliana has become an increasing problem on Norway spruce (Picea abies) in the Nordic countries during recent years. Canker wounds caused by the pathogen reduce timber quality and top-dieback is a problem for the Christmas tree industry. In this study, four inoculation trials were conducted to examine the ability of N. fuckeliana to cause disease on young Norway spruce plants and determine how different wound types would affect the occurrence and severity of the disease. Symptom development after 8–11 months was mainly mild and lesion lengths under bark were generally minor. However, N. fuckeliana could still be reisolated and/or molecularly detected. Slow disease development is in line with older studies describing N. fuckeliana as a weak pathogen. However, the results do not explain the serious increased damage by N. fuckeliana registered in Nordic forests and Christmas tree plantations. Potential management implications, such as shearing Christmas trees during periods of low inoculum pressure, cleaning secateurs between trees, and removal and burning of diseased branches and trees to avoid inoculum transfer and to keep disease pressure low, are based on experiments presented here and experiences with related pathogens.

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Abstract

Phytophthora cryptogea, P. gonapodyides, P. lacustris, P. megasperma, P. plurivora, P. taxon paludosa and an unknown Phytophthora species were isolated from waterways and soil samples in Christmas tree fields in southern Sweden. In addition, P. megasperma was isolated from a diseased Norway spruce (Picea abies) plant from one of the fields in Svalöv. Inoculation tests were sequentially carried out with one isolate from each of the three species P. cryptogea, P. megasperma, and P. plurivora, all known pathogens on conifers. The same three isolates were used to study a few morphological features to confirm the identification, and temperature-growth relationships were carried out to see how well the organisms fit into Swedish climatic conditions. Seedlings of Norway spruce and Nordmann fir (Abies nordmanniana) were inoculated in the roots and the stems. None of the isolates caused extensive root rot under the experimental conditions, but all three species could be re-isolated from both Norway spruce and Nordmann fir. Phytophthora root rot is currently of minor concern for Christmas tree growers in Sweden. However, the Phytophthora isolations from soil and water indicate the presence of this damaging agent, which may lead to future problems.