Persistence of Dothistroma septosporum in fallen needles in forest stands

Needles infected by the fungus Dothistroma septosporum suffer from a disease known as Dothistroma Needle Blight (DNB). Affected needles produce spores which spread the disease and also are shed prematurely.  Fallen leaves and plant debris are known to be a significant source of inoculum in a number of plant diseases.  This project aims to find out if this is the case with DNB.

Research objectives

  • Determine how long D. septosporum is able to survive in fallen needles on the forest floor
  • Determine how long D. septosporum is able to survive in fallen needles caught in the forest canopy
  • Investigate the whether certain genotypes are able to persist for longer in fallen needles than others.
  • Investigate the role of weather conditions on persistence of the fungus in fallen needles.

Results so far

Dothistroma septosporum is not suited to life in fallen needles, its survival rapidly declines once needles are shed from a tree.  The fungus survives longer in fallen needles caught in the canopy than in fallen needles on the forest floor. This is likely due to the increased humidity on the forest floor, which accelerates decay.  However, the fungus was able to survive eight months in fallen needles both in the canopy and on the forest floor, albeit at very low levels.

Publisherd article with results of the project


Work on the local persistence of D. septosporum began in February 2010 and was completed by March 2015.

Related Services

To report a finding of Dothistroma to Forest Research scientists please use TreeAlert

Related Resources

Pests and diseases: Dothistroma needle blight

Disease symptoms and life cycle

Pathogens and hosts of DNB

Status of the disease in Britain

Dothistroma needle blight FC webpage

Dothistroma needle blight Questions and Answers


Martin Mullett

Funders and Partners

Funded as part of the Forestry Commission Advice and Scientific Support for Tree Health Programme

Forestry Commission policy
This research underpins the evidence base for the delivery of healthy and resilient forests and wider ecosystems which is part of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Action Plan