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Individual Highlight

Detection of Heterbasidion Root Disease Using Genetic Fingerprinting

Photo of Heterobasidion root rot in red pine. Jessie Glaeser, USDA Forest ServiceHeterobasidion root rot in red pine. Jessie Glaeser, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Heterobasidion root rot is a significant pathogen in the red pine plantations of the midwestern U.S. Little is known about its distribution. Forest Service scientists developed a DNA molecular test for field personnel to use in diagnosing the disease.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Glaeser, Jessie A. 
Research Location : FPL
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 471


Heterobasidion root disease, caused by the fungus Heterobasidion irregulare has recently become a serious disease in midwestern red pine plantations. Very little is known about the disease in the East and the Midwest, including its distribution, how it spreads, how it infects other trees, and which management strategies would be effective for control. It may be newly invasive to this region and its distribution may be affected by climate change. Forest Service scientists, working in collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have developed a DNA sampling kit for detecting the pathogen directly from affected trees. The kit was distributed to foresters throughout the Midwest to assist with field surveys and allow broad geographical sampling. The molecular technique is more accurate, less expensive, and less labor-intensive than traditional detection methods, allowing intensive sampling and analysis.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Dan Lindner, Madison, WI, & Jenny Juzwik, St. Paul, MN
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Program Areas