Biological Invasions

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1147–1161 | Cite as

Anthropogenic signature in the incidence and distribution of an emerging pathogen of poplars

  • Padmini Herath
  • Stephanie Beauseigle
  • Braham Dhillon
  • Dario I. Ojeda
  • Guillaume Bilodeau
  • Nathalie Isabel
  • Marie-Claude Gros-Louis
  • Harry Kope
  • Stefan Zeglen
  • Richard C. Hamelin
  • Nicolas Feau
Original Paper


The introduction and establishment of non-native plant pathogens into new areas can result in severe outbreaks. Septoria leaf spot and canker caused by Sphaerulina musiva is one of the most damaging poplar diseases in northeastern and north-central North America. Stem and branch cankers can be devastating on susceptible trees, leading to tree death and reduced biomass in commercial plantations. In the Pacific Northwest region of North America, the first report of the disease was made in 2006 in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia (BC), Canada. To investigate the incidence and distribution of S. musiva from its point of introduction into BC, five plantations of Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood), 500 P. trichocarpa trees from natural populations, and 23 plantations of hybrid poplars were surveyed by using real-time PCR assays targeting S. musiva and its native sister species, S. populicola. Our survey suggests a strong anthropogenic signature to the emergence of the non-native S. musiva. Detection frequency of S. musiva was high in hybrid poplar plantations (116 trees infected, 54.2 % of the sampled trees), while detection of the native S. populicola was limited to 13.1 % (22 trees infected). By contrast, in natural stands of P. trichocarpa, less than 2 % of the trees were positive for S. musiva (7 trees) while ~75 % were positive for S. populicola (433 trees). All the S. musiva detections in natural stands of the native P. trichocarpa were from trees located in the vicinity (<2.5 km) of hybrid poplar plantations. Identification of the genotypes found in the hybrid poplar plantations revealed that they are in majority F1 progeny from P. trichocarpa × P. deltoides (T × D) (82 %) and P. nigra × P. maximowiczii (N × M) (7.8 %) crosses, which are generally susceptible (intermediate level of susceptibility between the two parental species) to the canker disease. Our results suggest that the emergence of S. musiva in BC is related to the planting of susceptible hybrid poplars. Even if the disease has not yet established itself in natural poplar populations outside of the Fraser Valley, infected plantations could act as a reservoir that could promote its spread into nearby native P. trichocarpa populations.


Tree diseases Detection assay DNA barcoding Real-time PCR Hybrid poplars Mycosphaerella Septoria canker 



We thank Angela L. Dale from Forest Products Innovation for constructive comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the Genomic Research and Development Initiative of Natural Resources Canada, Genome Canada, and Genome BC Project 2112 and the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Land Base Investment fund.

Supplementary material

10530_2015_1051_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (745 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 745 kb)
10530_2015_1051_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (33 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Padmini Herath
    • 1
  • Stephanie Beauseigle
    • 1
  • Braham Dhillon
    • 1
  • Dario I. Ojeda
    • 1
  • Guillaume Bilodeau
    • 2
  • Nathalie Isabel
    • 3
  • Marie-Claude Gros-Louis
    • 3
  • Harry Kope
    • 4
  • Stefan Zeglen
    • 5
  • Richard C. Hamelin
    • 1
    • 6
  • Nicolas Feau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, British ColumbiaThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Canadian Food Inspection AgencyOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Laurentian Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest ServiceNatural Resources CanadaQuebecCanada
  4. 4.British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource OperationsVictoriaCanada
  5. 5.British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource OperationsNanaimoCanada
  6. 6.Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes (IBIS)Université Laval/Pavillon Charles-Eugène MarchandQuebecCanada

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