Ash dieback: Research, funding and policy news – 11 June 2014

12th Jun 2014

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Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, the correct scientific name for the fungus causing ash dieback in Europe

Under the rules for the naming of fungi with pleomorphic life-cycles adopted in July 2011, the nomenclaturally correct name for the fungus causing the current ash dieback in Europe is determined to be Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, with the basionym Chalara fraxinea, and Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus as a taxonomic synonym of H. fraxineus.


Ash dieback in the UK: A review of the ecological and conservation implications and potential management options

The authors of this paper assess the potential ecological impact of Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (ash dieback) on Fraxinus excelsior in the UK. 953 species were identified as associated with F. excelsior trees: 12 birds, 28 mammals, 58 bryophytes, 68 fungi, 239 invertebrates, 548 lichens. Forty-four ‘obligate’ species were identified: 11 fungi, 29 invertebrates and 4 lichens; and 62 ‘highly associated’ species.

Off-setting the loss of ash with ‘alternative tree species’ may be one ‘solution’ to the biodiversity threat. No single alternative tree species can act as host for all ash-associated species but Quercus robur/petraea can host 69%. In an assessment of ecosystem function, when compared to other European deciduous tree species, F. excelsior interacts with the environment in a unique way, particularly in relation to nutrient cycling.

Exploration of different management scenarios in response to ash dieback indicated that management which did not remove infected F. excelsior trees was the best for ‘obligate’ and ‘highly associated’ species.

The results highlight wide-ranging ecological implications of ash dieback of relevance to other invasive pests and pathogens that are threatening the integrity of other tree species and woodland ecosystems.


Suffolk: Trees show resilience to dreaded ash dieback

Wildlife experts have said there are reasons for optimism despite the continued spread of ash dieback. Although a recent report suggested that half of East Anglia’s ash will be infected by 2018, due to air borne spores of the chalara fraxinea fungus, many already affected by the disease are showing a high level of resilience.

Population structure of the invasive forest pathogen Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus

Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (anamorph: Chalara fraxinea) is an invasive and highly destructive fungal pathogen found on common ash Fraxinus excelsior in Europe and is native to East Asia. To gain insights into its dispersal mechanisms and history of invasion, we used microsatellite markers and characterized the genetic structure and diversity of H. pseudoalbidus populations at three spatial levels: (i) between Europe and Japan; (ii) in Europe and (iii) at the epidemic’s front in Switzerland. Our data suggest that H. pseudoalbidus was introduced just once by at least two individuals. The potential source region of H. pseudoalbidus is vast and further investigations are required for a more accurate localization of the source population.


RFS publishes new guidelines on Chalara (Ash Dieback)

The RFS has issued new Chalara (Chalara fraxinea) Ash Dieback management guidance notes for woodland owners and managers. New cases of Chalara Ash Dieback are expected to be reported over the coming months as trees come into leaf. The Society is urging woodland owners affected by the disease to consider their woodland objectives and local circumstances before deciding on which actions to take.


Government ministers in Ireland discuss Chalara ash dieback

Republic of Ireland agriculture minister Tom Hayes and his Northern Ireland counterpart Michelle O’Neill have highlighted the importance of continued co-operation in tackling plant disease throughout Ireland. The two ministers were speaking at the All-Ireland Chalara ash dieback Conference in Dundalk, where they informed delegates that findings of the disease throughout the island of Ireland have been limited mainly to recently imported material.


Chalara ash dieback workshop

Wednesday June 18th, 9.30am – 4pm

Lawshill village hall, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

This free workshop will bring together managers of ash research sites, concerned land-owners and managers of woodlands experiencing or threatened by Chalara ash dieback. The aim is to share information and experience and to renew partnerships in ash genetics and tree improvement research.

After lunch, we will visit two local woodlands to see Chalara ash dieback – Frithy Wood, a mature woodland and Golden Wood, a young woodland where ash dieback was first reported in Suffolk.

Numbers are limited, so to reserve your place at this important event, contact Tim Rowland on 01453 884264 or e-mail him at:


Recognising early ash dieback leaf symptoms

Teagasc’s Forestry Development Department have produced a new pictorial guide to recognising early ash dieback leaf symptoms.


Recent posts on the OpenAshDieback crowdsourcing hub:

Analysis of UK Ash diversity set- morphological traits and disease susceptibility

20 UK isolates sequenced and submitted by The Genome Analysis Centre


If you have details of meetings, research, funding or policy news on ash dieback that you would like circulating, please email us.

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