In pine wilt disease (PWD), embolized tracheids arise after virulent pine wood nematodes (PWN), Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, invade the resin canal of pine tree; infected pine trees finally die from significant loss of xylem water conduction. We used a compact magnetic resonance imaging system with a U-shaped radio frequency (rf) probe coil to reveal the developmental process of the xylem dysfunction in PWD. Multiple cross-sectional slices along the stem axis were acquired to periodically monitor the total water distribution in each 1-year-old main stem of two 3-year-old Japanese black pines (Pinus thunbergii) after inoculation of PWN. During the development of PWD, a mass of embolized tracheids around the inoculation site rapidly enlarged in all directions. This phenomenon occurred before the significant decrease of water potential. Some patch-like embolisms were observed at all monitoring positions during the experimental period. Patchy embolisms in a cross-section did not expand, but the number of patches increased as time passed. When the significant decrease of water potential occurred, the xylem dysfunctional rate near the inoculation point exceeded 70%. Finally, almost the whole area of xylem was abruptly embolized in all cross-sections along the stem. This phenomenon occurred just after water conduction was mostly blocked in one of the cross-sections. Thus, it appears that the simultaneous expansion of embolized conduit clusters may be required to induce a large-scale embolism across the functional xylem. Consequently, xylem dysfunction in infected trees may be closely related to both the distribution and the number of PWN in the pine stem.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science