Fungi in ash trees: protecting trees from emerald ash borer and new diseases
Robert Blanchette, Plant Pathology
In the past decade, an invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer (EAB) has caused the death of thousands of ash trees across Minnesota.
Larval EAB feed on the layer of ash wood just beneath the bark, leaving behind tunnel galleries that can stretch up to 20 inches long. This feeding also spreads disease-causing fungi, which can cause tree decay and create hazardous conditions if trunks become too weak to stand. Other fungal species associated with EAB-infestation may be entomopathogenic – that is, capable of parasitizing the insect and killing it or slowing its spread. These fungi would be promising candidates for EAB biocontrol measures.
To date, managers simply haven’t been sure what fungi – good or bad – are associated with EAB infestation in Minnesota. This project will identify those species for certain and, in doing so, open up new possibilities for managing one of our state’s most devastating tree pests. Researchers will also be on the lookout for signs of another major fungal pathogen, ash dieback, in local samples.
- What fungi occur in trees infested with EAB?
- What fungi contribute to canker formation, wood decay, and tree death following EAB infestation?
- Are any of the fungi associated with EAB capable of infecting and killing the insect?
This research will help us understand the complex interactions between EAB and the fungi associated with them. It will also identify fungal diseases linked to EAB infestation, and serve as a first step in developing an effective, fungi-based biocontrol option for EAB in Minnesota.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), USDA
Robert Blanchette, principal investigator
Kathryn Bushley, co-principal investigator
David Showalter, post-doctoral associate
Benjamin Held, research scientist
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