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Fort Lauderdale, FL, United States

de Macedo D.M.,Federal University of Vicosa | Pereira O.L.,Federal University of Vicosa | Wheeler G.S.,Invasive Plant Research Laboratory | Barreto R.W.,Federal University of Vicosa
Plant Disease | Year: 2013

Schinus terebinthifolius (Anacardiaceae), Brazilian peppertree (BP), is a major environmental weed in many tropical and subtropical areas of the globe, including Florida, Hawai'i, and Australia. This plant has been the target of a classical biocontrol project in the United States involving pathogens collected in Brazil for several years. A fungus was found in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo causing leaf spots and severe foliage blight on BP. Examination of the morphology and internal transcribed spacer sequence analysis confirmed that the fungus is a strain of Corynespora cassiicola. Preliminary host-range tests involving 24 species, including 11 species in the family Anacardiaceae, were conducted with the fungus, and specificity toward BP was confirmed. Plants of Brazilian pepper tree from populations in Florida and Hawai'i included in the tests became severely diseased. Therefore, the recognition of a new forma specialis-Corynespora cassiicola f. sp. schinii- is proposed. The specificity of this forma specialis and the severity of the disease it caused in the field and under controlled conditions indicate that it has the potential for use as a biocontrol agent for BP in areas where it is an exotic invasive species. © 2013 The American Phytopathological Society.

Rayamajhi M.B.,Invasive Plant Research Laboratory | Pratt P.D.,Invasive Plant Research Laboratory | Center T.D.,Invasive Plant Research Laboratory | Van T.K.,Invasive Plant Research Laboratory
European Journal of Forest Research | Year: 2010

The exotic tree Melaleuca quinquenervia (melaleuca) forms dense forests usually characterized by low plant diversities and dense litter biomass accumulations on forest floors of ecologically sensitive ecosystems, including portions of the Florida Everglades. We quantified litter accumulation in mature melaleuca stands and compared decomposition rates of melaleuca leaves with a sympatric native plant, either Cladium jamaicense (sawgrass) in sawgrass marshes or Pinus elliottii (slash pine) in pine flatwoods habitats that varied in soil types. Total litter accumulation in mature melaleuca forests prior to June 1997 ranged from 12.27 to 25.63 Mg ha-1. Overall, melaleuca leaves decomposed faster in organically rich versus arenaceous soils. Decomposition rates were lower for melaleuca leaves than for sawgrass in both melaleuca-invaded and uninvaded sawgrass marshes. In arenaceous soils of pine flatwoods, melaleuca leaf and pine needle decomposition rates were similar. Complete mineralization of sawgrass leaves occurred after 258 weeks, whereas melaleuca leaves had up to 14% and pine foliage had up to 19% of the original biomass remaining after 322 weeks. Total carbon (C) in intact decomposing leaves varied slightly, but total nitrogen (N) steadily increased for all three species; the greatest being a fourfold in sawgrass. Increases in N concentrations caused decreases in the C/N ratios of all species but remained within an optimal range (20-30) in sawgrass resulting in higher decomposition rates compared to melaleuca leaves and pine needles (C/N ratio >30). Slower decomposition of melaleuca leaves results in denser litter layers that may negatively affect recruitment of other plant species and impede their establishment in invaded communities. © 2010 US Government.

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