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Researchers From the U.S. Forest Service and the United Kingdom Join Forces To Save Ash Trees Facing Intercontinental Threats

Photo of Photo taken with a 40 X dissecting microscope at the Delaware, Ohio, research facility eight weeks after EAB egg hatch in September 2014.  In the center of the light colored tissue is a small dark, oblong-shaped emeral ash borer larva that failed to survive in the ash host tree, a possible indication that the tree may be resistant to the beetle. David W. Carey, USDA Forest ServicePhoto taken with a 40 X dissecting microscope at the Delaware, Ohio, research facility eight weeks after EAB egg hatch in September 2014. In the center of the light colored tissue is a small dark, oblong-shaped emeral ash borer larva that failed to survive in the ash host tree, a possible indication that the tree may be resistant to the beetle. David W. Carey, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Ash trees across Europe are currently under attack by a fungal disease known as ash dieback disease, while here in the United States, they are being killed by the emerald ash borer at an unprecedented rate. In today's global economy there is risk that these ash menaces could cross the Atlantic Ocean and become a dual threat, causing the complete devastation of ash resources on both continents. Forest Service researchers are part of an international team that was recently awarded over 1.2 million dollars by the United Kingdom's Tree Health and Biosecurity Initiative to pioneer the application of a new method for finding genes that are responsible for pest and pathogen resistance in trees.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Koch, Jennifer 
Research Location : NRS-16, US Forest Service, 359 Main Rd., Delaware, OH; Queen Mary University of London, London, UK; Forest Research, Midlothian, UK
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 632

Summary

More than 40 species of ash are important to both the environment and the economy of countries located across five continents. Currently the global ash resource is facing two significant threats: the flat-headed, wood-boring insect known as the emerald ash borer (EAB) and a fungal disease known as ash dieback disease. In the United States and Russia, EAB is killing ash trees at an unprecedented rate and is likely to spread. Ash dieback disease, first observed in Poland over 20 years ago, has now reached 21 European nations and research has shown that at least some ash species native to the United States are susceptible. 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, Forest Service researchers will test over 20 different species of ash for resistance and susceptibility to EAB and international collaborators will test for resistance and susceptibility to ash dieback disease. Genomic sequences of thousands of genes from each of the ash species will be generated. Scientists will use a novel approach to identify genes involved in resistance by looking for evolutionary patterns of variation in genes that co-occur only in species with resistance to EAB or ash dieback disease.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Therese Poland, NRS-3, East Lansing, MI
  • Paul Jepsen, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
  • Richard Buggs, Queen Mary University of London
  • Steve Lee, Forest Research, Midlothian, UK
  • Steve Rossiter, Queen Mary University of London

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