The tree pathogenic fungi Heterobasidion annosum s.s. and Heterobasidion parviporum cause root and butt rot in Norway spruce (Picea abies) and produce serious economic losses to the forest sector in Europe. We experimentally studied inter- and intraspecific differences between H. parviporum and H. annosum s.s. in the way they infect stumps and spread into neighbouring trees. Eleven H. parviporum and nine H. annosum s.s. isolates were artificially inoculated on stumps of two spruce stands after first thinning. After 15 years, the same isolates were reisolated from neighbouring trees. Heterobasidion parviporum spread more frequently from the inoculated stumps to the neighbouring trees than H. annosum s.s. The surroundings of H. annosum s.s. stumps that did not spread were often colonized by H. parviporum. Heterobasidion annosum s.s. spread was restricted mainly to the areas of the plot where no other Heterobasidion genotypes had been inoculated. In such cases, H. annosum s.s. tended to develop into bigger genets than H. parviporum. The probability of stump-to-tree spread of H. parviporum depended on the diameter of the stumps, suggesting that H. parviporum spread may relate to the presence of heartwood. Both H. parviporum and H. annosum s.s. proved to be strong pathogens on Norway spruce; however, when competing for the same trees, H. parviporum seemed capable of excluding H. annosum s.s. from the stand.
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