Rapid diagnostic methods to combat a new disease of conifer trees in Minnesota: Heterobasidion root rot causing circles of death


Rapid Diagnostic Methods to Combat a New Disease of Conifer Trees in Minnesota: Heterobasidion Root Rot Causing Circles of Death

Heterobasidion root rot is considered the most economically important disease of pines and other conifers throughout the northern temperate regions. It has tremendous ecological impacts on forest health and productivity. The disease is well established and causes extensive losses in the eastern and western United States but is not currently in Minnesota. Recently, it has become well established in Wisconsin and has spread quickly. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported in 2012 that it has been confirmed in 23 counties and three of these counties are adjacent to Minnesota. To successfully manage this disease in Minnesota and reduce its economic and ecological impact, early detection is essential. This will allow management practices to be deployed to control the disease. Molecular methods for detecting Heterobasidion have been reported but a rapid, effective method of detection is desperately needed to identify this fungus from infected wood. The project's aim is to develop a molecular-based diagnostic method using specifically designed primers derived from sequences of Wisconsin isolates of Heterobasidion that is easy to use and effective. The group will work cooperatively with the Wisconsin DNR, Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the US Forest Service to use this method in surveys throughout the state. Sequencher will be used for sequence alignment, analysis, and aid in primer design.

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