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article imageAsh trees set to become extinct in Europe

By Tim Sandle     Mar 24, 2016 in Environment
The Ash tree is set for extinction in Europe. Ash trees have long-faced two serious threats: fungal disease ash-dieback and an invasive beetle called the emerald ash borer.
While more information is being discovered about the threats to Europe's ash tress (Fraxinus excelsior), there appears little that can now be done to protect these fine trees. A new report in the Journal of Ecology predicts the extinction of the tree from Europe; here, one area with the greatest density is the U.K.
A research note, accompanying the paper, states: "between the fungal disease ash dieback and a bright green beetle called the emerald ash borer, it is likely that almost all ash trees in Europe will be wiped out - just as the elm was largely eliminated by Dutch elm disease".
The reference to Dutch elm disease describes a disease caused by a member of the sac fungi (Ascomycota) affecting elm trees. During the 1980s and 1990s it effectively wiped out Europe's elm trees. In the U.K. alone, 60 million elm trees were killed.
With the two threats, Ash dieback, also known as Chalara. It is caused by a fungal pathogen called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus. The fungus, first discovered in 2012, kills the leaves, then the branches, trunk and eventually the whole tree. The word Chalara comes from an early misidentification of the fungus as Chalara fraxinea.
With the second threat, the emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle from Asia. The devastating beetle is spreading throughout mainland Europe. Here the larvae of the beetle kill the trees by boring under the bark and in to the wood.
The research paper carrying the warning is titled "Biological Flora of the British Isles: Fraxinus excelsior."
To help with the effort to save some of the trees, University of York scientists are searching for genetic markers that can predict if individual trees in populations of ash will be vulnerable to the disease or if they will be able to tolerate it and survive. This remains an ongoing effort.
More about ash tree, Extinction, Trees, Disease
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