Testing non-native ash species for tolerance to Chalara

News from Forest Research: October 2014

A new project is underway to identify non-native ash species that possess natural tolerance to Chalara fraxinea, the fungus that causes ash dieback. Since April this year, Forest Research scientists have been working closely with major British arboreta and botanic gardens to source as many different non-native ash species as possible.

Our teams worked with Westonbirt Arboretum, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Shoots were collected at each site, forming a range of 29 different species of non-native ash. We then grafted the shoots onto native ash stock.

At present, these grafted trees are installed in a Forest Research nursery where they are being monitored. After 12 months, the next stage will be to plant out those successfully grafted trees at trial sites known to be infected with Chalara. Our teams will monitor these sites for disease development and species survival.

This work is part of the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) project, coordinated by Queen Mary University of London. It complements two other ash projects that Forest Research is participating in that aim to identify any Chalara-tolerant native ash individuals through mass screening trials in East Anglia and east Kent, and tolerance testing of pre-Chalara selected ash trees from an earlier ash breeding programme.

For more information, contact Dr. Steve Lee.

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