Phellinus noxius (Corner) Cunningham causes root and lower stem rot of woody plants throughout the South Pacific region. Its hosts include rubber, mahogany, cacao, and many timber, fruit, and landscape trees. Though endemic to the Tropics, no reports were found describing brown root rot disease in native forests, exclusively. Incidence, distribution, and host range of P. noxius were measured in primary and secondary rain forests on Tutuila Island, American Samoa. Phellinus noxius was recorded in 19 of 20 strip transects and 1.2-ha established plots and in all vegetation types, infecting 37 tree species in 30 genera and 22 families. Species most affected were Myristica fatua, Dysoxylum samoense, and Hibiscus tiliaceusÑ25, 16, and 10%, respectively. Of 62 infection centers, 33 contained the same tree species and 13 were dominated by a single species. The fewest infections were recorded at primary montane and ridge top sites. Regenerating secondary valley sites had the highest incidence of disease and greatest number of infection centers. Infection centers at these disturbed sites also contained more trees on average than centers at primary sites. Disease incidence was influenced more by human disturbance than by vegetation type, topography, stem diameter, stem density, or soil type. The disturbed sites also appeared to lack the species richness of mature sites. This agrees with other host/pathogen associations, such as Douglas-fir/P. weirii and hardwood/P. noxius plantations, where disease incidence and spread was higher in species-poor than in species-rich stands.


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pp. 377-387
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