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UC researchers confirm coast redwood and Douglas fir as hosts for sudden oak death pathogen

Two of California's most highly prized trees -- coast redwood and Douglas fir -- are susceptible to Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death, University of California researchers have confirmed. Over the past seven years, Sudden Oak Death, a highly contagious fungus-like disease, has killed tens of thousands of oaks and tanoaks along the northern coast of the state.

Researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Davis have isolated living cultures of P. ramorum from the branches and needles of coast redwood and Douglas fir saplings that had shown symptoms of infection. The researchers first announced the discovery of P. ramorum DNA in the trees earlier this year, but couldn't confirm that the pathogen was causing infection until living cultures were successfully grown from the field samples.

It is not yet clear how seriously the disease will impact California's coast redwood and Douglas fir trees, which are ecologically and economically vital to the state, particularly to the timber, nursery, landscape and construction industries.

The infected redwood saplings were found at Jack London State Park in Sonoma County and Henry Cowell State Park in Santa Cruz County. The infected Douglas firs were found at another site in Sonoma County.

The researchers also conducted DNA tests on diseased sprouts growing from the base of mature redwood trees in Marin, Alameda and Monterey counties. The presence of the pathogen in the sampled trees has been strongly suggested by repeated positive DNA identification.

These new test results will be published online in October in the journal Plant Disease.

The number of identified species susceptible to the Sudden Oak Death pathogen has steadily grown since the disease was first reported in Marin County in 1995. With the addition of coast redwood and Douglas fir, there are now 17 known species worldwide susceptible to P. ramorum. Sixteen of them are found in California, inclu
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Contact: Patricia Bailey
pjbailey@ucdavis.edu
530-752-9843
University of California - Davis
5-Sep-2002


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