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    Description

    Increasing the frequency of resistance to the non-native fungus Cronartium ribicola (causative agent of white pine blister rust, WPBR) in limber pine populations is a primary management objective to sustain high-elevation forest communities. However, it is not known to what extent genetic disease resistance is costly to plant growth or carbon economy. In this study, we measured growth and leaf-level physiology in (1) seedling families from seed trees that have previously been inferred to carry or not carry Cr4, the dominant R gene allele conferring complete, gene-for-gene resistance to WPBR in limber pine, and (2) populations that were and were not infected with C. ribicola. We found that, in the absence of C. ribicola exposure, there was no significant difference in carbon relations between families born from seed trees that harbor the resistance allele compared to those that lack it, either to plant growth and phenology or leaf-level photosynthetic traits. However, post-infection with C. ribicola, growth was significantly reduced in inoculation survivors expressing complete resistance compared to uninoculated seedlings. Furthermore, inoculation survivors exhibited significant increases in a suite of traits including photosynthetic rate, respiration rate, leaf N, and stomatal conductance and a decrease in photosynthetic water-use efficiency. The lack of constitutive carbon costs associated with Cr4 resistance in non-stressed limber pine is consistent with a previous report that the R gene allele is not under selection in the absence of C. ribicola and suggests that host resistance may not bear a constitutive cost in pathosystems that have not coevolved. However, under challenge by C. ribicola, complete resistance to WPBR in limber pine has a significant cost to plant growth, though enhanced carbon acquisition post-infection may offset this somewhat. These costs and effects on performance further complicate predictions of this species’ response in warmer future climates in the presence of WPBR.

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    Citation

    Vogan, Patrick J.; Schoettle, Anna W. 2016. Carbon costs of constitutive and expressed resistance to a non-native pathogen in limber pine. PLoS ONE, 11(10): e0162913.

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    Keywords

    carbon, non-native fungus, Cronartium ribicola, limber pine, white pine blister rust, WPBR

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/53115