Winter curing of Prunus dulcis cv 'Butte,' P. webbii and their interspecific hybrid in response to Xylella fastidiosa infections
Clonal replicates of Prunus dulcis cv 'Butte,' P. webbii and their interspecific hybrid P 63-61 were inoculated with Xylella fastidiosa strain M23 and evaluated for almond leaf scorch disease and subsequent winter curing of infections during three growing seasons. Initial inoculations established greater than 90% infection in each of the accessions, based on PCR diagnoses from petiole tissues sampled near the inoculation site. Classic leaf scorch symptoms were evident in each population during the first growing season in a controlled greenhouse environment. Trees were removed from the greenhouse during the winters to accumulate chill hours and to provide the possibility of winter curing X. fastidiosa infections. Both PCR diagnostics and in vitro cultivation were used during the second and third growing seasons to determine the persistence of X. fastidiosa in clones among the three populations. Tree survival and the degree of winter cured infections differed among the three populations, with P. webbii and P 63-61 demonstrating enhanced levels of survivorship over 'Butte.' After two cycles of ambient winter temperatures and subsequent growth, 'Butte' averaged 21.2% winter cured trees with 73.1% mean survival. Tree survival and winter cured infections were nearly 100% for both P. webbii and P 63-61, demonstrating the utility of P. webbii in almond breeding efforts aimed at reducing tree vulnerability to X. fastidiosa infections.