NKJ researchers help stopping devastating tree disease

Researchers revealed the genome sequence of a devastating tree pathogen. The disease threatens the Scandinavian broadleaf forests and this new knowledge can help stop it!

 

The new genome resource can be used in future population genomic studies for identification of haplotypes and alleles, and in identifying which effectors may function in infection of woody host plants.

The genome sequence presented provides a resource that can underpin further investigation into the mechanisms of disease caused by P. plurivora, a prevalent but little researched pathogen of important tree species. Our genome sequence of P. plurivora is consistent with the genome architecture of other sequenced Phytophthora species, and we found evidence for elevated ploidy, as can occur in Phytophthora species.

Causes huge economic loss

DNA strings. Illustration.Plant pathogens belonging to the genus Phytophthora cause disastrous diseases and are responsible for multi-billion dollar losses in agriculture and forestry. Several Phytophthoras such as P. plurivoraP. alniP. cambivoraand P. cactorum are now endemic problems in Scandinavian forests.

Despite causing diseases of different tree species in forest ecosystems, little is known about the mechanisms by which Phytophthoras invade and colonise trees, or the molecular interactions that take place between tree infecting Phytophthoras and host trees. Significant investment has been targeted to develop solutions for Phytophthora crop diseases, most notably for P. infestans and P. sojae.

Limited knowledge

By contrast, there has been divestment in tree biology, particularly the genomic and molecular skills. Consequently, we have limited knowledge about the infection biology of endemic and recently discovered pathogenic Phytophthoras that are an increasing threat to trees in Sweden and worldwide, and the tree resistance mechanisms that may control them. The overarching objective of our research is to investigate mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions and to identify ways to control diseases caused by tree infecting Phytophthoras.

Here we present a draft genome sequence of P. plurivora, originally isolated from diseased European beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Malmö, Sweden. Compared to other sequenced Phytophthora species, the P. plurivora genome assembly is relatively compact, spanning 41 Mb.

Article – Draft Genome Sequence for the Tree Pathogen Phytophthora plurivora

Text: Ramesh Vetukuri, Kaia Ekegren

Ramesh Vetukuri is the coordinator of a SNS-NKJ network:

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SNS-NKJ network BioWiseTrans meets to enable bioeconomy

Enabling Sustainable Transition to a Biobased Economy – The BioWiseTrans Network meets for the 2nd time in Hamar.

Composition of images with a group of people looking at stuff. Photo.

18-20 June, BioWiseTrans partners Nordregio, NIBIO, LUKE, Oslo University and Karlstad University came together in Hamar and sorroundings for its second workshop. Like last time and importantly, different stakeholders from Norway, Sweden and Finland joined us.

Study the bumps in the road

The excellent program set up by Norwegian partners focused on the need to address and study conflicts and synergies in the ongoing transition towards a fully biobased economy. Foremost focusing on forests, the group of 15 researchers and practitioners jointly experienced and discussed balancing goals of economic uses (e.g. production), social uses (e.g. recreation and tourism) and environmental concerns (e.g. conservation, restrictions and regulations). Discussions were also fuelled through the bioeconomy strategy in Hedmark, county and municipal planning, usages of common land for forestry and grazing, outdoor life and forestry, second home developments, and a visit to the gene bank of the forest seed centre.

Both new and old

It is clear that the biobased economy consist of both new and old land uses within forests, agriculture and fisheries. To adopt governance and management practices to the current land, water and resource uses, it is important to use sustainable development as a basis. The governance structures in place together with local participatory processes have been more or less functioning for decades (not without conflicts and dialogues however). In the current transition process it is therefore important to ask the following questions: What to sustain? What to develop?

In addition to thought provoking discussions, the group also enjoyed a tour to the tallest wood building in the world, the beautifully and innovatively restored dome in Hamar, and dinner with a Napoleon touch and some farm produced beer.

Don’t change what is functioning

One of the most vivid memories remain from visiting the Åstdalens forest associations by the book example of management of the common land (with reference to Elinor Ostroms theories on common resourse use). The head of the board told the group about the ongoing negotiations between the land owners about how many cattle heads are going to be allowed per farm unit. A research project in the area also indicates the synergies between clear cuts in forestry and agriculture, as the cattle tend to prefer to graze on the clear cuts. This shows that there is no need to transform anything that is functioning.

The BioWiseTrans network also discussed its final conference to take place in Karlstad 27-28 March. Stay tuned for any updates in this regard.

 

Text: Elin Slätmo, Karen Refsgaard

Photo: Michael Kull

FibreTies meeting: preparing for large grant application

The SNS-NKJ network FibreTies will be having a meeting to prepare for a large grant application.

The workshop and network event will be held at  VTT, Espoo, Finland, May 15-16 2018.

The purpose of this meeting is to establish one or more project groups for a large grant application. The outcome aim is that it will result in project applications for H2020, Nordic Built, research councils within the EU and Nordic countries. The focus will be on new possibilities, alternative materials, interesting products and business development in the area of biobased fibers.

FibreTies welcomes companies and institutions to participate. Young researchers/PhD students are encouraged to join the project meeting workshop and thereby contributing to the discussion on the way forward for more industrial use of non-fossil, non-food biobased fibres.

The deadline for registration is May 1st 2018.

Enlightening about Neonectria cankers

The meeting on Neonectria cankers on trees was fruitful for the participants in the SNS–NKJ network Neonectria cankers on trees.

Close up on branch. Photo.
Canker wounds with numerous fruiting bodies of Neonectria ditissima on apple. Photos from the book of abstracts, see link in the bottom of the page: Venche Talgø

Neonectria cankers on trees – meeting of changed climatic conditions and increased problems in Scandinavian horticulture and forest production by interdisciplinary networking” is a newly started network. First meeting was at Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy (NIBIO) at Ås February 6 2018.

The whole meeting day gave a nice overview of current knowledge in research about the diseases Neonectria-species is causing both in forestry, landscaping and in horticulture.

Status of each of the three Neonectria pathogens were presented from each of the four countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. In addition there was one invited speaker for each pathogen; Roland Weber from Germany covering Neonectria ditissima, Ana Perez-Sierra from England covering Neonectria neomacrospora and Richard O’Hanlon from Northern Ireland covering Neonectria fuckeliana.

Lecture hall with ongoing presentation. Photo.
Meeting participants listening to one of the interesting lectures about Neonectria. Photo: Dalphy Harteweld

One comment after the meeting was: this was an eye opener for me, I was not aware of the disease on the other trees.

The network will meet in late autumn and discuss how we can cooperate in the future and how we can use knowledge obtained on one tree and with one Neonectria specie to improve on other trees and other Neonectria-species.

 

Download book of abstracts for Neonectria cankers meeting

 

Neonectria cankers in focus

The SNS-NKJ network Neonectria Cankers on trees is having its first meeting february 6th 2018 in Ås, Norway. The outcome of the network activities will be an overview article of the Neonectria cankers in the Nordic countries, and this meeting is a start.

During the day, the participants will hear guest lecturers about Neonectria ditissima, Neonectria neomacrospora and Neonectria fuckeliana. Representatives from the Nordic countries will give a picture of the state of Neonectria cankers in their countries.

The organizers of the meeting have collected photos of Neonectria cankers and reference lists of publications in the participating countries to make an abstract book for the meeting. We look forward to see the book and to hear about experiences of the meeting!

See the program for Neonectria cankers in focus (PDF)