The introduction of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus to Northern Ireland and the subsequent development of ash dieback
Ash dieback caused by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus was first recorded in Northern Ireland (NI) in November 2012. The disease was observed only on recently (<6 years) planted trees. An in-depth case study in 2015 of an ash plantation with severe symptoms indicated that many of the trees were infected at the time of planting. Apothecia were observed developing from pseudosclerotia beneath the epidermis of dead branches still attached to the tree, suggesting a possible mechanism whereby H. fraxineus could be disseminated without leaf or rachises infection. Apothecia also formed on roots, indicating that infections may also occur in the soil. Often young trees were killed by the formation of large basal lesions which did not arise from stem infections higher up. On first detecting the disease on the island of Ireland the Governments of NI and the Republic of Ireland published an “All-Ireland Chalara Control Strategy.” Part of that strategy was a ban on the importation of ash plants from regions where the disease was known to be present, to prevent the introduction of further inoculum, and the implementation of an ‘eradication and containment’ policy with the aim of preventing the establishment and spread of the disease. While these measures may have slowed disease establishment, they were ultimately unsuccessful and by 2018 ash dieback was widespread and established throughout the whole of NI in plantations and in the wider environment.
Publication history: Accepted - 12 December 2022; Published online - 11 January 2023.
apothecia, ash dieback, eradication and containment, Hymenoscyphus fraxineus
Baxter, E., Cooke, L.R., Spaans, F., Grant, I.R. and McCracken, A.R. (2023) ‘The introduction of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus to Northern Ireland and the subsequent development of ash dieback’, Forest Pathology. Wiley. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/efp.12789.