Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology

Document Type



Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) decline (LPD) has been present in upland sites of central Alabama since the 1960s. Symptoms of LPD (fine root deterioration, short chlorotic needles, sparse crowns, reduced radial growth) begin in the 30-40 yr age class, resulting in premature death at ages 35-50. Previously, declining loblolly was diagnosed as littleleaf disease (LLD); however, site conditions associated with LPD are different from LLD sites. Littleleaf disease only occurs on eroded, heavy clay soils and is secondarily associated with the fungus, Phytophthora cinnamomi. In contrast, LPD occurs on sandy, well-drained soils and is associated with Leptographium spp., as well as with root-feeding bark beetles and weevils. In the present study, 17 species (eleven newly reported) of subcortical root- and lower-stem feeding beetles were identified as vectors of Leptographium species, of which Hylastes salebrosus, H. tenuis, Hylobius pales and Pachylobius picivorus were statistically more abundant (F3,14=13.90, p=0.003) in LPD sites. Leptographium terebrantis, L. procerum, L. lundbergii, and L. serpens were isolated from the roots and insects. Pathogenicity studies suggested that L. lundbergii and L. serpens, fungi not previously reported in the U.S., were more virulent on loblolly pine. Spatial analysis correlated LPD to site and stand physical factors. Slope and aspect were the predominant predictive variables of LPD in central Alabama. Convexity and elevation were predictive only in combination with other topographical factors. These analyses have allowed the creation of LPD risk maps to accurately predict areas of loblolly decline, providing a vital new tool for managing southern forests for predetermined purposes.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

John P. Jones