PHRAME key deliverable and objectives

Close-up of needle wilting of pines caused by pinewood nematode
Close-up of needle wilting of pines caused by pine wood nematode

The key deliverable of the project is the development of an improved pest risk analysis methodology that can be used at local and regional scales to assess the scale of a potential plant health threat and, by use of models, to assess the consequences of a range of pest management options.

Improving current Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) methodology

The Consortium will aim to achieve this by:

  • Gathering data on the biology and likely impacts of PWN and its vectors in Europe
  • Developing and testing survey methodology to assess the taxonomy and distribution of PWN and its Monochamus vectors on the Iberian peninsula and elsewhere
  • Establishing live cultures of Bursaphelenchus for pathogenicity testing on pines in Europe
  • Using genetic similarity to carry out pathway analysis to determine the origin of the Portuguese isolate(s) of PWN
  • Determining eco-climatic requirements of PWN and its vectors to improve knowledge on the pest-vector relationship
  • Constructing new PRA models and testing them for PWN and other quarantine pests.

Specific programmes of work and outputs

  • Investigation of the life cycle and distribution of Monochamus species (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in the Iberian peninsula by field observations, use of bait traps, bait logs and analysis of infested stems in order to develop an improved understanding of the biology and vector relationships between Monochamus spp. and Bursaphelenchus xylophilus.
  • Surveys for Bursaphelenchus species and correlation with eco-climatic conditions in Portugal, Spain and France. This will provide information on the possible spread of B. xylophilus from Portugal into neighbouring countries and, from the eco-climatic data, lead to forecasts of possible spread, establishment or impact of B. xylophilus in other countries.
  • Determination of potential vector insects other than Monochamus spp. from Portugal and Spain and their examination for the presence of Bursaphelenchus dauer larvae. The possible participation of various wood- and bark-boring beetles (e.g. bark beetles) in the transmission of Bursaphelenchus nematodes will be determined.
  • Pathogenicity tests with the Portuguese strain of B. xylophilus by inoculation of various pine species of European origin in climate chambers in Germany and under outdoor conditions in Portugal. These experiments will quantify the pathogenic potential of the recently discovered Portuguese B. xylophilus strain(s) relative to the known pathogenicities of B. xylophilus strains from North America, Japan and China.
  • Morphological and molecular-biological identification of Bursaphelenchus species found in Portugal, Spain and France to build a database of occurrence and identity of European Bursaphelenchus spp and their differentiation from B. xylophilus.
  • Culturing of numerous Bursaphelenchus species and strains for morphological and molecular biological investigation and pathogenicity testing thus providing a unique reference collection for use within the study. Both native and introduced Bursaphelenchus spp. will be compared and, especially in Portugal, potential hybridisation between species will be assessed. Implications for the effects of establishment of an aggressive competitor (B. xylophilus) in a new ecosystem will be investigated within a biodiversity context.
  • Estimation of genetic distances between Portuguese, North American and East Asian strains of B. xylophilus using molecular genetic techniques. From the genetic similarity of strains, it should be possible to carry out a pathway analysis of introduction of B. xylophilus to Europe and to assess whether the new European strain shows any unique characteristics relative to populations already established elsewhere in the world.
  • Provision of relevant ecological data with respect to climatic conditions, land use for forestry, agriculture and other purposes (shelter belts, soil stability, amenity) and distribution of B. xylophilus and Monochamus spp. on the Iberian peninsula and elsewhere in Europe. Conclusions will be drawn on the potential of B. xylophilus for establishment and damage probability in various woodland and forest types and the consequent implications for land use, especially the agro-forestry interface and soil moisture retention. These data will be used to suggest optimal pest management strategies both within the current outbreak area in Portugal and also to develop contingency plans specific to individual EU Member States and other European countries.
  • Development of improved Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) tools to underpin EU Plant Heath strategies using B. xylophilus and Monochamus spp. as examples. Tools will include response surface modelling, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and CLIMEX software coupled with a pest-vector-host association represented by B. xylophilus (exotic), Monochamus spp. (native) and Pinus spp. (both native and exotic). Implications for wider crop management, especially Integrated Crop Management and production of Decision Support Systems for managing plant health risks will also be incorporated within the PRA structure. User-friendly paper and electronic outputs will be disseminated to countries that do not have wide experience of risk assessment. A Web-Site to provide summaries of the work and extend its applicability to a wide audience will be established. The general principles established during the modelling process will be disseminated to the EU Standing Committee on Plant Health and to regional plant protection organisations, especially EPPO.
  • Production of a new literature and information database on B. xylophilus and Monochamus spp. with emphasis on the phenologies of B. xylophilus and Monochamus spp. Outputs will include direct advice to Member States on relative risks arising from presence of pine wood nematode (PWN) in Europe.

See the description of the work packages for further information.