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Research Call

DAFM Reference

Lead(Collaborating)Institution

DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2010 10/C/721 AFBI, (Teagasc, UCD, UL) €494,206

Project Title:

Detection, Epidemiology and Control of P. ramorum and P. kernoviae in Irish Forests (PHYTOFOR)

Project Coordinator:

Dr. James Choiseul

Project Abstract

The PHYTOFOR project was completed in October, 2015.  The total duration of the project was 42 months, including a 6 month extension.  The Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) work contributed significantly to our understanding of the risks associated with Phytophthoras.  This work is especially important given the lack of expertise in PRA in Ireland at present.  The Phytophthora characterisation work has provided us, for the first time, with an accurate view of the Irish P. ramorum population.  It also supports the case for maintaining official controls against this organism as incursion by other lineages could result in an escalation of disease severity.  At the molecular level, the difficulty in ‘tracing’ individuals within a disease epidemic is significant in that this concept is often cited as a means of explaining how individual outbreaks occur.  The enhanced understanding we now have of the ‘plasticity’ of P. ramorum that has come from the Project, illustrates the importance of scientifically verified population data to support control activities. The investigation into detection methods has profound consequences for the provision of diagnostic services, for Phytophthora specifically, but also more generally.  The work has demonstrated that conventional, traditional methods such as plating onto growth medium are likely to decline in favour of molecular based methods.  Although there will still be a place for classical methods especially in the case of new or exotic pathogens or as a stop gap while molecular methods are being optimised, for routine analysis molecular methods are more reliable as well as having quicker turn round times and are not dependent on highly specific expert individuals.  This should provide a clear focus for the future for all laboratories providing diagnostic services as well as advancing the acceptance of in-field diagnostics.  However it is vitally important to have scientists with epidemiological expertise in order to be able to contextualise and interpret molecular data in terms of the risk of establishment and spread.   Data from the field trials looking at survival and spread and has strongly indicated that survival on cleared sites is likely to be relatively uncommon.  Numerous dissemination activities (popular and scientific press, conferences, posters) have been generated throughout the project.  These activities will continue into the future.

Final Report:

Final Report (pdf 499Kb)