Emerging disease threats to trees

Trees in Britain are under attack from diseases we hadn’t seen before. Emerging diseases. The dieback fungus Chalara fraxinea on ash (Fraxinus excelsior) isn’t the only emerging disease threat to trees in Britain.

There’s also Phytophthora ramorum, another fungus or ‘fungus-like pathogen’. This one attacks the Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi), the European larch (Larix decidua) and other trees and shrubs. P. ramorum was recorded on L. kaempferi in Northern Ireland in 2010 and in that same year, on L. decidua near some L. kaempferi in Cornwall. On various trees and shrubs this pathogen has been spreading through Britain since 2002. Here’s what the Forestry Commission says about its P. ramorum control programme in England. Last month larch trees in Scotland started to be felled in an attempt to control the disease. Will this turn out to be too little, too late?

Another emerging threat is Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi, a bacterium affecting the horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). This bacterium causes bleeding canker. The disease has become more common within the last four years but the Forestry Commission isn’t calling this a crisis.

Clive Potter at Imperial College says that we’re importing too many trees. Dr Potter says that controls should be tightened to stop tree diseases reaching Britain from all over the world.

[Edit] Steve Woodward and Andrea Vannini tell us about invasive alien pests and pathogens threatening European forests.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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8 Responses to Emerging disease threats to trees

  1. narf77 says:

    We have our own fungal problems in Australia and some of them are being helped by global warming. I recently posted about endemic honey fungus that has been present here for millenia but now its warming up and becoming more humid one of our native species of Eucalypt is declining alarmingly. It is becoming a lot drier here in Tasmania and this native species isn’t coping and is starting to suffer fungal attacks on a massive scale. No problems with Ash and Elms here (aside from Elm leaf beetles that just got imported from the mainland) but its worrying how the trees, the lungs of the earth, are showing us just how polluted and filthy our world is becoming

    • argylesock says:

      How awful. I look forward to learning about Aussie land and ecosystems.

      • narf77 says:

        Armillaria luteobubalina is a death sentance for anything woody on your property if it invades and is incredibly hard to stop. I made light of it in my post but it causes dieback in our forests and spreads through the roots and fallen dead trees on the surface and is a massive headache. Aussie soil is already thin and denuded and “ancient” so we have a duty to improve it and treat it with respect and that’s what Steve and I are trying to do here. We are learning that chickens might provide good fertiliser BUT they scratch up their weights worth of soil and can tunnel mine your trees and shrubs roots to get to the moisture contained around them and expose the roots to their detriment. We are in the process of containing our chooks and they are NOT going to like it! It should make for some interesting posts regarding their new chicken jail and our endeavours to catch them and harness them for “good” 😉

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