Forest Health Protection
1720 Peachtree Road, NW
Room 816 N
Atlanta, GA 30309
Phone: (404) 347-7478
Fax: (404) 347-1880
Research and Extension
Following are lists of short term- and long term research priorities and extension/education priorities presented in the “Recovery Plan for Laurel Wilt on Redbay and Other Forest Species” (Mayfield et al. 2009). These lists include many of the areas needing further work, but are not intended to be all-inclusive or listed in order of importance. To obtain current information concerning laurel wilt research and extension activities, contact scientists and experts in areas of interest included in the Contacts section on this web site or the”Infrastructure and Experts” section of the Redbay Recovery Plan (Mayfield et al. 2009) . [Do we need to ask each person if it is all right to include their names in the contact lists?]
Determine utilization patterns of redbay, sassafras and other species at risk to laurel wilt by forest products industries, other businesses, and the public, and determine pathways by which RAB and laurel wilt could become established at other locations in the U.S. and the Americas. In particular, determine whether the distribution of "cypress blend" mulch, which may include redbay wood, is a pathway by which the RAB can spread to new areas.
- Determine the extent of infestation and rate of spread of the RAB and laurel wilt disease in sassafras populations.
- Determine the prevalence of RAB in Asian countries and evaluate potential pathways by which RAB and R. lauricola could be introduced from Asia into areas of the Americas currently free of these pests.
- Assess the need for, and perhaps seek funding and support for an ex situ germplasm conservation program for rare or endangered lauraceous plant species such as pondspice and pondberry, and possibly for redbay or other hosts threatened with drastic population reductions.
- Determine fate of RAB, R. lauricola and other Raffaelea species associated with RAB in ecosystems after redbays and other suitable hosts have died off.
- Evaluate the feasibility of protecting high-value landscape redbay trees with propiconazole on a repeated basis over an extended period of time. Evaluate the efficacy of other fungicides, insecticides, delivery methods, or combinations thereof.
- Continue research to better understand the epidemiology of laurel wilt on various plant species including better information on the biology and host attraction of the RAB and biology of R. lauricola.
- Determine the effect of other Raffaelea species associated with RAB on plants native to the U.S.
- Determine whether the use of contaminated pruning tools is a means by which the redbay pathogen can be spread from one tree to another.
- Determine and implement the best management strategies for slowing the movement of RAB westward along the Gulf Coast and northward along the Atlantic Coast in redbay, and inland in sassafras.
- Evaluate other lauraceous species in the U.S. and the Americas for attractiveness to the RAB, suitability for reproduction of the RAB, and susceptibility to the laurel wilt pathogen.
- Develop and evaluate effective management strategies (alone and in combination) for the laurel wilt vector such as sanitation, other silvicultural techniques (e.g., use of prescribed fire), trap-out or attract and kill techniques.
- Research the biology and host interactions of RAB and laurel wilt in Asia to understand what limits populations of RAB in its native range.
- Search for and investigate the possibility of using biological control agents against the laurel wilt pathogen and/or vector. Determine if any of the Raffaelea species (other than R. lauricola) associated with RAB could be used as a biocontrol agent.
- Continue to research the possibility of natural resistance in redbay populations and the eventual use of resistant genotypes in the field.
- Determine the mechanisms of resistance in Asian host species.
- Determine if other ambrosia beetles established in the U.S. are capable of carrying and transmitting R. lauricola (or other Raffaelea species associated with RAB) to susceptible host plants.
- Determine the ecological impacts of laurel wilt in natural ecosystems, including impacts on host plant populations (notably pondberry and pondspice), plant community composition, herbivores of host plants and other associated fauna, and multi-trophic relationships.
- Determine the population levels of RAB and the threat of laurel wilt to redbay and other lauraceous hosts in the aftermath of epidemics.
- Continue work on the molecular biology of ambrosia beetle symbionts and related molecular identification techniques.
Extension and Education Priorities
- Encourage all agencies and individuals who produce research or extension publications, produce survey reports, or confirm new infested counties to contribute this information to the regional laurel wilt website hosted by the USDA Forest Service-Forest Health Protection, which currently serves as a clearinghouse for this type of information.
- Educate campers, hunters and other forest and park users about the risks associated with transporting firewood. Encourage park, campground and land managers in areas affected by laurel wilt to post signs or other materials that discourage the transportation of firewood out of RAB-infested areas.
- Educate state agency resource professionals such as foresters, extension agents, regulatory personnel and others that might recognize the disease and help promote a consistent message.
- Train nurserymen and nursery inspectors to recognize laurel wilt symptoms and ambrosia beetle attacks and to send suspect plant material or insect samples to proper authorities for identification.
- Conduct education/outreach programs that raise awareness of the laurel wilt issue to the following groups:
- Those who cut, utilize, transport or dispose of host tree material (e.g., tree service companies, utility companies, loggers, mulch plants and pulpwood mills that utilize host species, landfills and transfer stations)
- Growers and sellers of live host trees (e.g., container and field nurseries, avocado growers)
- Owners of host trees in residential and landscape settings (e.g., homeowners, park managers, botanical gardens and arboretums)
- Owners and managers of host trees in forested and natural settings (e.g., forest landowners, forest and natural areas managers, park managers)
- Those who may transport firewood (e.g., hunters and campground visitors)
- Other public agencies, administrators and politicians