Ash dieback DNA breakthrough‏

argylesock says… The science is making progress.

Woodland Matters

UK scientists have thrown a lifeline to our ash trees by completing the first sequencing of the Chalara fraxinea genome – the fungus currently attacking ash trees across Europe.

Image: WTPL

In just a few weeks the scientists have unravelled the genetic secrets of the Chalara ash dieback fungus. This will help them understand how the pathogen attacks ash and may help in the fight against the epidemic. The data is freely available on crowd sourcing website OpenAshDieBack, which allows experts across the globe to identify specific genes and the roles they play in other organisms.

The scientists are also looking to map the genes of ash trees showing resistance to Chalara. In Denmark 2% of ash trees infected by the fungus have survived. The type, known as Tree 35, could provide the key for the survival of ash in our landscapes.

The £2.4 million project is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. More data will be made…

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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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2 Responses to Ash dieback DNA breakthrough‏

  1. Kay Haw says:

    Thanks for the reblog, let us hope this is a major step in the right direction.

    • argylesock says:

      We can certainly hope so. Thank you for blogging about this scientific progress.

      As you know I write a series ‘Tree of the Month’ using a version of the Ogham ‘calendar’ even though the ancient Celts didn’t use their Ogham that way. Next time the Moon’s new, I’m due to write about F. excelsior and thanks to you, I’ll write there about these new findings on C. fraxinea.

      This is the first time I’ve read ‘crowdsourced’ science. Just now I’m finding OpenAshDieback quite hard to read, being used to the conventional format of academic journals. I haven’t even found out what sequencing method was used. 454?

      Anyway I’m intrigued by the movement towards open-access science, esp for something so time-sensitive as this tree disease. Intrigued, and impressed by the senior people who’ve put their names to OpenAshDieback. Evidently, they believe that good science can happen without time-consuming peer review.

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