The main aim of the research program is the development of improved methods for the detection, control and eradication of pine wood nematode (PWN) in support of EU Plant Health Policy.
The process governing association of the nematode with the vector, the nematode leaving the vector, the movement of the nematode in the tree and the expression or latency of wilt symptoms are poorly understood.
Thus, the research programme will address the following objectives:
- Understanding the above processes better. This will be vital for predicting and managing the spread of the disease, and could also lead to the development of better methods for sampling the nematode.
- Developing early detection methods for PWN in trees.
- Developing new or improved tools to track vector activity and dispersal.
- If trapping is shown to give a significant reduction in populations of vector beetles, then it will be necessary to develop better traps for detecting the presence of beetles infected with PWN.
- Developing a set of microsatellite genetic markers for use in PWN genetic characterisation.
- Investigating the potential of pattern mosaics rather than monocultures of tree species as a measure to reduce PWN impacts by field observation of pine wilt expression in existing mixed forests in Portugal.
- Providing a refined but simplified process sub-model than the one developed in PHRAME so as to provide assessment of the risk of pine wilt expression at a range of scales and climate scenarios, both current and future. It will also include an economic dimension to quantify its full impact.
Although there is a great deal of information available on the PWN worldwide and from the PHRAME Project there are still gaps in knowledge and the Work Packages in this project have been agreed so as to fill up the evidence bases.
Producing a PWN Tool Kit (PTK)
The gathering of global knowledge within this project is a fundamental building block underpinning the main composite output of producing a PTK which will synthesise data, both from the wider international research and development community and the data produced by the REPHRAME consortium.
It will provide an innovative and interactive portal for stakeholders to interrogate the evolving state-of-the-art from REPHRAME and will enable customised outputs to be produced, ranging from basic advice through to precise and statistically valid procedures for sampling and management of PWN and its vectors.
Fundamentally, it will also be iterative and set up to ‘learn’ from new information from a disparate range of sources so that the outputs and recommendations will remain at the cutting edge. It will, therefore, be a key resource for those needing definitive and reliable information and advice on this highly damaging and invasive pest of conifers.
As well as developing the PTK, the project will actively seek to secure its sustainability, including establishing appropriate IPR arrangements.