Objectives of the DIAROD COST Action

Overall objective

The aim of the DIAROD Action is to identify the biosecurity implications and determine the risk of changing behaviour of forest pathogens to aid policy makers, regulators and land managers in the successful management of pathogen outbreaks. This will be achieved using Dothistroma Needle Blight (DNB) as a model.  The Action will encourage, on an international scale, collaboration and the co-ordination of research, data collection and knowledge transfer in order to tackle the fundamental issues. It focuses on two separate, but interlinking objectives, met through a series of Tasks with defined milestones that are managed through four Working Groups.

Specific objectives

The objectives fit around a structured approach that is at the core of classical plant pathology research: the disease triangle (pathogen-host-environment).  Objective 1 primarily concerns the pathogen whilst Objective 2 considers environmental and host factors.

However integration of these themes is an inherent and essential feature of the DIAROD activities.

Objective 1: Determination of the invasiveness of DNB pathogens

To identify biosecurity implications of new forest pathogens, using DNB as a case study.  Firstly, the Action will determine the range and severity of the two Dothistroma spp. in Europe through disease surveys and monitoring.  It will also evaluate the population structures of the Dothistroma spp., and determine whether these species, or new strains of these species, are likely to be recent introductions to parts of Europe.  The spread of the DNB pathogens will be synthesised based on data collected from population studies using microsatellites, RAPD, and other molecular markers.

Objective 2: Determination of the extent and implications of changing behaviour of DNB

This objective aims to determine the risk of changed behaviour of forest pathogens, again using DNB as a case study, under current and future management and climatic scenarios.  To determine the factors responsible for increased virulence, the epidemiology of the pathogens in a variety of environments will be assessed, as will species susceptibility and related host resistance mechanisms.

Dissemination of findings

Dissemination and interactive sharing of the findings from the Action will be through a dedicated website, a series of workshops and Training Schools. High impact publications, conference proceedings, popular articles (e.g. in trade journals) and best practice guides will achieve long term and lasting records of the significant findings.

How will the objectives be achieved?

Detailed, focused and thematic Working Groups will identify and develop the wealth of expertise of COST participants combining biological, biochemical, environmental and ecological approaches in order to fulfil the objectives of the Action. These Working Groups will work in an interactive manner to ensure that a holistic overview is achieved, synthesising knowledge already gained whilst helping to co-ordinate and direct research programmes to answer questions arising.

Experiences gained from other invasive forest pathogens will also be utilised e.g. Phytophthora ramorum, Lecanosticta etc.  This will encourage further experimentation, data collection and data analysis that is relevant and focused.  State of the art research techniques will be integrated with more conventional methods to provide a clear insight into future management, and offer tools to prevent further spread and negative impacts of forest pathogens.

The interactions within the DIAROD Action will make the best use of resources, both within and between individual EU member states, and other regions where DNB is causing damage.  This will be achieved through optimisation of current research programmes and by providing a platform for joint applications for effective new funding streams.   Specific Tasks will be facilitated by Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM) throughout the term of the Action.