Sudden Oak Death

Posted on April 21, 2008  Comments (0)

Sudden Oak Death pathogen is evolving, says new study that reconstructs the epidemic

The pathogen responsible for Sudden Oak Death first got its grip in California’s forests outside a nursery in Santa Cruz and at Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County before spreading out to eventually kill millions of oaks and tanoaks along the Pacific Coast, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. It provides, for the first time, evidence of how the epidemic unfolded in this state.

The study, scheduled to appear later this month in the online early edition of the journal Molecular Ecology, also shows that the pathogen is currently evolving in California, with mutant genotypes appearing as new areas are infested.

The most likely scenario, said Garbelotto, is that the pathogen arrived in California through the nursery trade, and that it then spread from the nursery in Santa Cruz to trees bordering the facility. While the site at Mt. Tamalpais is not adjacent to a nursery, there is anecdotal evidence of frequent use of ornamental plants from nurseries in landscaping projects in the area, said Garbelotto.

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