Effect of soil compaction and moisture on incidence of phytophthora root rot on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) seedlings

C. C. Rhoades, S. L. Brosi, A. J. Dattilo, P. Vincelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


American chestnut is one of hundreds of plant species plagued by root rot caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi. Phytophthora root rot is thought to have contributed to chestnut dieback prior to the arrival of chestnut blight, and it may now present a serious limitation to establishment of blight-resistant hybrid chestnut. We manipulated soil compaction and moisture to evaluate the effect of soil physical factors on incidence of Phytophthora root rot on American chestnut seedlings. Seedlings were grown under three watering regimes, two soil compaction levels and two fungicide levels. Increased soil moisture enhanced seedling growth in loose soil, but irrigation did not impact seedlings growing in compacted soils. Seedling mortality was greatest in wet, compacted soils. Disease incidence was highest in the wettest soils, irrespective of compaction level. Fine root necrosis and Phytophthora infection occurred on 58 and 24% of non-fungicide-treated seedlings, respectively. Presence of ectomycorrhizal fungi declined in compacted soils that were either wetter or drier than optimal. Occurrence of ectomycorrhizal fungal symbionts was unrelated to root rot. This study demonstrates the high susceptibility of American chestnut to this common root pathogen, even under moderate levels of soil compaction and moisture. While overcoming chestnut blight is the first step in restoring chestnut to its original range, to establish successful plantings it will be crucial to recognize and avoid sites where soil physical factors promote Phytophthora root rot.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Oct 3 2003


  • Ectomycorrhiza
  • Forest pathology
  • Forest restoration
  • Nursery production
  • Root disease
  • Seedling propagation
  • Soil bulk density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of soil compaction and moisture on incidence of phytophthora root rot on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) seedlings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this