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Individual Highlight

Scientists Join Forces to Save Ash Trees Facing Intercontinental Threats

Photo of Caption: Hagmel Vega Fontanez [intern with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and  Universities (HACU) Program] and Isabel Sanchez [intern from National Hispanic Environmental  Council (NHEC) Youth Conservation Corp (YCC)] place EAB eggs onto ash trees in the greenhouse  at the Delaware, OH research lab to determine the level of susceptibility/resistance to EAB.; Caption:  Photo taken with a 40 X dissecting microscope at the Delaware, OH research facility 8 weeks after EAB egg hatch.  In the center of the light colored tissue is a small dark, oblong-shaped EAB larva that failed to survive in the ash host tree, a possible indication that the tree may be resistant to EAB.Caption: Hagmel Vega Fontanez [intern with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Program] and Isabel Sanchez [intern from National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC) Youth Conservation Corp (YCC)] place EAB eggs onto ash trees in the greenhouse at the Delaware, OH research lab to determine the level of susceptibility/resistance to EAB.; Caption: Photo taken with a 40 X dissecting microscope at the Delaware, OH research facility 8 weeks after EAB egg hatch. In the center of the light colored tissue is a small dark, oblong-shaped EAB larva that failed to survive in the ash host tree, a possible indication that the tree may be resistant to EAB.Snapshot : Ash trees across Europe are currently under attack by a fungal disease known as ash dieback disease while in the United States the emerald ash borer is killing ash trees at an unprecedented rate. An international team of scientists have worked for several years to find genes that are responsible for pest and pathogen resistance in trees.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Koch, Jennifer 
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2020
Highlight ID : 1692

Summary

There are over 40 species of ash that are important to both the environment and the economy of countries located across five continents. Ash trees across the globe are currently facing two significant threats: an insect known as the emerald ash borer (EAB), and a fungal disease known as ash dieback disease. EAB is killing ash trees at an unprecedented rate in the United States, and five North American species of ash are considered critically endangered. Ash dieback disease, that has now reached 22 European nations, has not yet been found in the United States, but research has shown that at least some North American ash species are susceptible to the disease. EAB and ash dieback disease are both native to Asia, and Asian ash species have been identified that are resistant to both. As part of an international team, Northern Research Station scientists tested over 26 species of ash for resistance to EAB. Across the Atlantic, international collaborators are testing the same species for resistance to ash dieback disease. Genomic sequences of 1,400 genes from each of the ash species were generated and a novel approach was used to identify 53 candidate genes involved in resistance. These genes, once validated, have the potential to greatly expedite the breeding process and the production of resistant planting stock for restoration of EAB-decimated forests.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • David W. Carey USDA FS NRS
  • Mary E. Mason USDA FS NRS
  • Alan T. Whittemore - USDA Agricultural Research Service
  • Richard Buggs and Dr Laura Kelly, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • William J. Plumb, Endymion D. Cooper, William Crowther, Stephen J. Rossiter - Queen Mary University

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