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Ash dieback: pathogen spread and diurnal patterns of ascospore dispersal, with special emphasis on Norway


  • Paper presented at the EPPO Workshop on Chalara fraxinea in Oslo on the 30th June–2nd July 2010.


Dieback of European ash (Fraxinus excelsior), caused by the ascomycete Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (anamorph Chalara fraxinea), started around 1992 in Poland and has since then spread over large geographical areas. By November 2010, the disease had been recorded in 22 European countries. The gradual expansion and high intensity of the ash dieback epidemic in Europe may suggest that H. pseudoalbidus is an invasive alien organism. In Norway, ash dieback was first reported in spring 2008, and a survey in early summer of the same year revealed that the disease had spread over large parts of the southern and eastern regions of the country. The distance from the southernmost to the northernmost infected stands was, at that time, about 400 km. Some old necrotic lesions were also observed, indicating that the ash dieback pathogen is likely to have been present in Norway since at least 2006. In 2009, a spore sampler was installed in a diseased ash stand at Ås, South-Eastern Norway. Sampling started in late July and continued until late September. Large numbers of ascospores resembling those of H. pseudoalbidus were observed, with the maximum number of spores occurring from the end of July to mid-August. The deposition of ascospores occurred mainly between 6 and 8 a.m. Ascospores are most likely to be the primary source initiating host infections and responsible for the rapid recent spread of H. pseudoalbidus in Europe.