Appalachian forests are threatened by a number of factors, especially introduced pests and pathogens. Among these is Phytophthora cinnamomi, a soil-borne oomycete pathogen known to cause root rot in American chestnut, shortleaf pine, and other native tree species. This study was initiated to characterize the incidence of P. cinnamomi on surface mined lands in eastern Kentucky, USA, representing a range of time since reclamation (10, 12, 15, and 20 years since reclamation). Incidence of P. cinnamomi was correlated to soil properties including overall soil development, as indicated by a variety of measured soil physical and chemical parameters, especially the accumulation of soil organic carbon. P. cinnamomi was detected in only two of the four sites studied, aged 15 and 20 years since reclamation. These sites were generally characterized by higher organic matter accumulation than the younger sites in which P. cinnamomi was not detected. These results demonstrate that P. cinnamomi is capable of colonizing reclaimed mine sites in Appalachia; additional research is necessary to determine the impact of P. cinnamomi on susceptible tree species at these sites.

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Published in Forests, v. 9, issue 4, 203, p. 1-15.

© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This study was funded by a UK Appalachian Center Eller and Billings Award. Open access publication was supported by a Storkan-Hanes-McCaslin Research Foundation award. Soil analysis was supported by funding provided by the USDI Office of Surface Mining and Enforcement’s Applied Science Program.