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article imageSome ash trees could resist deadly fungal disease

By Tim Sandle     Apr 28, 2016 in Environment
Norwich - Some good news for the fight to protect Europe’s ash trees from the disease ash dieback. Several trees have been found to carry a genetic resistance to the pathogen and this may offer hope for protecting future tree populations.
British scientists have traced an ash tree that appears to be tolerant to ash dieback. The implications of this means it could be possible to use selective breeding to grow trees that are able to resist the disease.
The tree has been nicknamed "Betty" and is located in the English county of Norfolk.
The tree and the wider implications are the subject of a report by the U.K. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The overall project to help combat the disease is called Nornex, and the bulk of the research is led by the John Innes Centre, which is a research institute in the U.K.
Ash dieback has spread around Britain and many parts of Europe, wiping out the trees. The disease, which first appeared in the 2012, is caused by a fungus .
According to The Guardian, the disease is thought to have reached Britain via imported saplings and by spores carried on the winds from Denmark. In parts of Scandinavia, the fungal disease has destroyed 90 percent of the ash trees.
The next steps are to trace the genetic markers to find out why the particular tree is resistant. A few other trees have shown better tolerance but not total resistance. Each of these trees will be compared with susceptible trees, to find out how the genetic patterns differ.
Commenting on the research, UK Chief Plant Health Officer, Nicola Spence, stated: “This unprecedented work conducted by British scientists has uncovered an exciting development in tree health.”
She went on to explain: “It paves the way for tackling this destructive disease and will help ensure that Britain’s stock of ash trees, and its countryside, remains resilient against pests and disease in the future.”
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