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Biological control of chestnut blight in Portugal
- L. M. Martins, J. P. Castro, M. E. Gouveia
- Acta horticulturae 2014 no.1043 pp. 51-56
- Castanea sativa, Cryphonectria parasitica, biological control, disease control, founder effect, fungi, health status, pathogens, plant health, population structure, quarantine, selfing, soil management, soil types, tree age, trees, virulence, Portugal
- Hypovirulence is a specific biological control method of chestnut blight, a lethal disease of American and European chestnut. The causal pathogen of chestnut blight is Cryphonectria parasitica, a fungus of Asian origin and an A2 quarantine organism in Europe. The disease has been reported since 1990 in Portugal, one of the last European countries where the pathogen was introduced. The chestnut blight fungus is now well established and widespread in Portugal with fast expansion in all chestnut regions. Biological control with hypovirulent strains of C. parasitica is considered an efficient means to control the disease and improve chestnut recovery. One of the goals of this study is to apply hypovirulence as a biological method for chestnut blight control and produce a solid scientific base to extend the treatment method over the country's chestnut areas. A successful biological control program will have a very high practical impact on crop productivity and on the social perception of applied research. Field records and studies included parameters related to trees (dendrometric parameters and plant health status) and the physical characteristics of the plots (type of soil, exposure, geographic coordinates, age of trees, actual management of soil, etc.). Other scientific issues related to population structure of the pathogen include evolutionary forces that are present or dominate at population level (clonality, selfing, self-incompatibility, vc type structure, vc type segregation, CHV presence, CHV species). One of the goals of this study is to generate data that can answer questions dealing with the effect of the founder population and the driving forces on actual and future chestnut populations. The study also can produce an innovative and a realistic approach that has potential for large and extended field application with a positive impact on chestnut production.