UPI in English  |   UPI Arabic  |   UPI en Español  |   UPIU

Japan said source of fungus killing trees

Published By United Press International
LONDON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Scientists say evidence suggests a disease currently decimating ash trees in Britain and across Europe originated in Japan.

The fungus responsible for so-called ash dieback disease is the same as a species of the fungus from Japan that apparently causes no harm to Manchurian ash trees in that country, they said.

The fungus that has been marching across Europe for more than 20 years, threatening many of the continent's ash trees, was first detected in Britain in the spring of this year.

It was in a small town north of Krakow in Poland two decades ago that forest rangers first realized a fungus was causing the death of their ash trees.

"My colleagues and I have come to the conclusion that this fungus cannot be native -- it's just far too aggressive," Tadeusz Kowalski of the Agricultural University of Krakow said.

Ongoing studies have suggested the fungus, Chalara fraxinea, is not a European native species and could have come from Asia, researchers said.

"Scientists working together in Japan and Germany have been looking at a fungus associated with native ash trees in Japan," Joan Webber, principal pathologist at Britain's Forestry Commission, told the BBC.

"And what they've found is that this fungus appears to be the same one causing ash dieback in Europe and now in Britain."

Because European native ash trees have not evolved resistance to it, as Japanese ash trees apparently have, they are dying in huge numbers, researchers said.
© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

Photo Gallery
1 of 1
Tour de France concludes in Paris
Race winner Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain (C) stands between second place finisher Christopher Froome of Great Britain (L) and third place finisher Vincenzo Nibali of Italy on the presentation podium following the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris on July 22, 2012. Wiggins of Great Britain became that country's first ever overall winner of the Tour de France. UPI/David Silpa