SASA and Forest Research develop new tools to identify root-disease causing fungus

Armillariaspp. is a genusof fungi (commonly referred to as the honey fungus) that is responsible for causing root disease in a wide range of woody plants, including amongst species which are of economic importance.  Until the 1970’s Armillaria was thought to be a single species (mellea) with variable morphology, but it has subsequently been found to consist of 36 species globally, with at least six species found in Northern Europe.Identification of the separate Armillariaspecies using traditional techniques is very difficult, even through the use of DNA based methodologies. This leads to trees often being removed as a precautionary measure on the assumption that they may be infected with certain Armillariapathogens.

CAMERAS Partners SASA and Forest Research have recently worked collaboratively to successfully develop a suite of molecular assays - based on elongation factor 1-alpha gene sequences - to identify Northern European Armillariaspecies.  The project has also developed a methodology – using DNA pyrosequencing – which allows rapid diagnostic identification of Armillaria.

These tools can now be used to develop an understanding of the distribution and ecology of the Armillaria species in Northern Europe. This is particularly important as Armillaria spp. have been identified by international organisations such as the IPCC, FAO, as pathogens which could become more aggressive and damaging due to the impact of climate change.

More information on this collaborative research can be found here:
http://www.sasa.gov.uk/content/development-and-verification-diagnostic-assay-based-ef-1-%CE%B1-identification-armillaria-species