Ash dieback (ADB), caused by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, has severely damaged a large proportion of ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) in continental Europe. We have little damage data for the British Isles where the disease was found only five years ago in the Southeast, and is still spreading. A large-scale screening trial to evaluate ADB damage to provenances of F. excelsior sourced from throughout the British Isles was planted in 2013 in the southeast of England. In 2016, we scored trees by their level of ADB damage observed in field at the two worst affected (based on assessments in 2015) of the 14 sites. Significant differences were found in average ADB damage among planting sites and seed source provenances. Trees from certain provenances in Scotland were the least damaged by ADB, whereas trees from Wales and Southeast England were the most badly damaged in both trial sites. Thus the levels of ADB damage currently seen in ash populations in Southeast England may not be an accurate predictor of the damage expected in future throughout the British Isles. Given all provenances contained some healthy trees, a breeding programme to produce genetically variable native ash tree populations with lower ADB susceptibility may be feasible.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 29, 2017
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