Cryptic Risks to Forest Biosecurity Associated with the Global Movement of Commercial Seed
Dogmus, Hatice Tugba
Lehtijaervi, Asko Tapio
Vettraino, Anna Maria
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The import and export of tree seed carries with it risks of inadvertent introduction of pests and pathogens to hitherto unaffected regions. Although trade in seed of specified trees is regulated, phytosanitary requirements for most tree species are minimal, even those related to the most important forest tree species in a given region. A better understanding of the microbiome associated with seed intended for commercial production or ornamental use, and their potential risk with the transport from the source origin of distributors, will help regulatory agencies implement measures to safeguard seed health and avoid trade-related spread of potentially harmful pathogens. In this study we used high-throughput sequencing to show that highly diverse fungal communities were associated with seed of 14 different Pinus species obtained from seed banks (seed orchards) and retail sources (online distributors) in North America and Europe. Fungal diversity differed among the 23 seedlots tested. Community composition did not relate to the species of Pinus nor the country of origin. Assigned potential functions based on sequence identity using FUNGuild provided an overall understanding of the likely life strategies of fungal operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Of those sequences classified to a trophic level, 453 were plant pathogens, with the Dothideomycetes having the highest prevalence. The most common plant pathogens included Sydowia polyspora, Lasiodiplodia theobromae, Diplodia intermedia and Diplodia sapinea that were detected from the majority of Pinus species. The evidence presented here illustrates an urgent need for plant protection authorities, practitioners and the general public to recognize the potential risk of introducing harmful pathogens through innocent transport of seed.