Sudden Oak Death Disease Prediction

Lab Report

By: Ann Northrup

Ann Northrup spent her undergraduate years at the University of Michigan, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in microbiology….

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Certain compounds found in the inner bark of coast live oak trees may serve as testable biomarkers able to indicate susceptibility to Phytophthora ramorum infection. The idea to search for these biomarkers stemmed from earlier research in California where a wide range of susceptibility between individual trees was detected when oaks were intentionally inoculated with the pathogen during some insect-related studies. The non-invasive procedure to predict susceptibility currently takes a week, but anticipated work aims to shorten this time and reduce costs. Such testing would allow a forest manager to rate the disease risk to particular stands of oaks prior to possible infection. Similar methodology could possibly be developed to test for susceptibility to other forest pests such as the emerald ash borer.

Forest Ecology and Management, January 2014 pp. 154-160 and UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources newsletter, Our Environment, April 2014