Research Forum on Invasive Species

Phyto-threats attendance at the 28th USDA Interagency Research Forum on Invasive Species held in Annapolis, Maryland, USA, January 10-13, 2017

Sarah Green (Forest Research) attended the 28th USDA Interagency Research Forum on Invasive Species held in Annapolis, Maryland, January 10-13, 2017. She presented a paper entitled ‘Tackling emerging forest Phytophthoras in the UK: Mitigating risk of new introductions and managing diseased landscapes for the future’ during the session ‘Forest Phytophthora: They get around’ organized by IUFRO Working Party 7.02.09, Phytophthoras in Forests and Natural Ecosystems. Sarah’s presentation included an overview of the LWEC3 Phyto-threats project; rationale and objectives. The talk generated discussion on the overall willingness of nurseries to participate in the project, and the conundrum posed by ever increasing trade flows whilst trying to reduce risks of global spread of pests and diseases. Sarah also took the opportunity to ask for collaborators to assist the Phyto-threats workpackage 3 team, led by Beth Purse, in compiling data on global Phytophthora occurrence. She learned of an ongoing project by Yilmaz Balci from USDA-APHIS who has about 21 new Phytophthora species (as yet undescribed) which he will publish on this year. Twelve of the species were collected during surveys in South and Central America and the rest were collected from eastern USA. These will be added to the Phyto-threats traits database when the data become available. In general there was much enthusiasm for having one central Phytophthora database (listing biological traits and distribution) available globally. This is a big project however and one which would require additional resources to manage beyond the lifetime of Phyto-threats.

There were a number of other speakers who gave presentations of particular interest to the Phyto-threats project. Everett Hansen of Oregon State University reported on the high diversity of Phytophthoras found during surveys of Oregon wildlands. Laura Sims, University of California, discussed how plant disease predictions for invasive soilborne Phytophthora species are consistent with host ecology and with genus-level co-evolutionary history. Rebecca Epanchin-Niell of ‘Resources for the Future’ based in Washington DC described a cost-benefit analysis of the live plant trade during her talk ‘Informing efficient strategies to reduce pest risk from live plant imports’. The analysis was done in relation to risks to US forests from introductions of insect pests, but it involved economic estimates of the welfare benefits of the live plant trade, expected damages per forest pest establishment (over time as invasion spreads) and included an assessment of the relatedness of imported plant species to important forest species in the US. This work can be viewed in more detail in; Epanchin-Niell and Liebhold, 2015. Benefits of invasion prevention: Effect of time lags, spread rates, and damage persistence. Ecological Economics 116; 146-153

Also of interest was a talk by Rebecca Ganley of Scion, Rotorua, New Zealand, who described her colleague Peter Scott’s work in compiling a list of all Phytophthora species reported in every country globally. They are using modelling approaches to predict the number of Phytophthora species likely to be present in each country in the world. The Phyto-threats workpackage 3 team are now in touch with the NZ group to scope the potential for collaboration/sharing of resources.