Dothistroma (red band) needle blight


Dothistroma Needle Blight (DNB), also known as Red Band Needle Blight because of the colourful symptoms it shows on pine, is an economically important disease of conifers.  It causes premature needle defoliation, resulting in loss of yield and, in severe cases, tree death.

  • Mortality in Corsican pine infected with Dothistroma needle blight
    Mortality in Corsican pine infected with Dothistroma needle blight
  • Reduction in diameter increment of Corsican pine due to Dothistroma needle blight
    Reduction in diameter increment of Corsican pine due to Dothistroma needle blight

Until recently the disease was primarily of concern in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly on radiata pine (Pinus radiata).  However, since the 1990’s there has been a rapid increase of disease incidence in both Europe and in Canada.

Since the late 1990’s the disease status has changed markedly in Britain. It is now found in many forests growing susceptible pine species, with Corsican pine (Pinus nigra ssp. laricio), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) and more recently Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) all being affected. 

In other countries where the disease has a significant economic impact, successful methods of control have tended to focus on fungicide treatments.  However, in Britain the focus is on the use of resistant species and good stand management.

Research in progress

The main research areas are as follows:

  • Surveillance and monitoring of disease extent and severity in Britain and assessment of the impact of the disease on timber yields.
  • Increasing our understanding of the disease epidemiology including spore dispersal distances, timing of spore release and infection, and persistence of the pathogen on fallen needles.
  • Increasing our understanding of the fungal population structure by investigating genotypic variation and distribution of the mating types across the Britain, both of which will aid management decisions.
  • Investigating potential management strategies including thinning and respacing regimes, fungicide application and variation in host species susceptibility. 

See also Determining invasiveness and risk of Dothistroma (DIAROD)
EU COST Action FP1102.

Funders and partners

This research is funded by:

There are currently two PhD students working on this topic co-supervised by Forest Research, one in conjunction with Dr Simon Archer, Imperial College, London and one with Dr Steve Woodward, Aberdeen University. 

Forest Research was also the proposer of the European COST Action FP1102 DIAROD (see link above) which runs from December 2011 to December 2015.


Further information on this disease and other shoot diseases of pine:


The programme started in 2004 and is on-going.


Richard Baden

What's of interest

Publication cover
Dothistroma needle blight - Field guide

Sampling guidance, symptoms and further information

Publication cover
Red band needle blight of conifers in Britain

Forestry Commission Research Note 2

Current tree health issues
Acute oak decline, Phytophthora diseases and Dothistroma needle blight.
Presentation to Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in March 2011.

Related pages