Effects of Puccinia species complex on common buckthorn

close up photograph of yellowed crown rust on the back of a buckthorn leaf

Crown rust fungus on common buckthorn

Image credit: "Puccinia coronata on Rhamnus cathartica" by Björn S.CC BY-SA 2.0



Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) is a highly invasive plant that is well-established across Minnesota. It disrupts ecosystems and degrades wildlife-supporting habitats by outcompeting and displacing native vegetation. Buckthorn is difficult and costly to eradicate, requiring long-term commitment from land managers.

Several crown rust fungi (Puccinia Series coronata) have been found to infect and negatively affect common buckthorn. Building on their prior research on rusts of glossy buckthorn, this project team will identify the specific crown rust fungi that infect common buckthorn in Minnesota, determine the symptoms of disease, and document the host range of the pathogen. Once identified, they’ll evaluate the pathogen’s effects on common buckthorn including growth and mortality. 

Research questions

  • What are the crown rust fungi that infect common buckthorn in Minnesota?
  • What is the host range of the pathogen species in common buckthorn and graminoids?
  • What are the disease symptoms and severity of the pathogen species?
  • What is the effect of the pathogen on common buckthorn seedlings?

Practical implications

Researchers will be able to generate the first distribution map of the crown rust species complex in Minnesota, which will reveal the relative prevalence on common buckthorn. Should the research team confirm that crown rust fungi is effective in suppressing common buckthorn, it may become a valuable tool for land managers.

Research team

Pablo D. Olivera Firpo | principal investigator

Nicholas Greatens | co-principal investigator

Yue Jin | research supervisor

Shahryar Kianian | researcher


Collaborating organizations

USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory

Minnesota Department of Agriculture