Project

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Chestnut blight research in the Balkans and Georgia: population studies and biological control methods

English title Chestnut blight research in the Balkans and Georgia: population studies and biological control methods
Applicant Rigling Daniel
Number 127922
Funding scheme SCOPES
Research institution Swiss Federal Research Inst. WSL Direktion
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research - WSL
Main discipline Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Start/End 01.11.2009 - 30.04.2013
Approved amount 220'000.00
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All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Agricultural and Forestry Sciences
Environmental Research
Botany
Ecology

Keywords (7)

Biological control; Chestnut blight; Cryphonectria parasitica; European chestnut; Castanea sativa; hypovirus; population biology

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Lead Chestnut blight caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica is an introduced disease responsible for a widespread decline of European chestnut forests. In this project, we aim to provide the scientific basis for biological control of this devastating tree disease. BackgroundBiological control is a highly desirable means of pest and disease management in natural and managed forest ecosystems. This control method depends on the invasion of a pest population by a biocontrol agent (e.g. a hyperparasite), which ideally can spread and establish in a self-sustainable way. The Cryphonectria hypovirus1 (CHV-1) infects the chestnut blight fungus C. parasitica and has the potential to be used as a biological control agent of this pathogen. The invasion of C. parasitica populations by the hypovirus appears to be highly influenced by the population biology of the fungus. Spread of the hypovirus is favoured by low diversity of vegetative compatibility (vc) types and limited sexual reproduction. Therefore, the information and understanding of the population structure and epidemiology of C. parasitica and the hypovirus is important for the success of biological control of chestnut blight. ObjectivesThe project has two main objectives, (1) to investigate the population structure and colonization history of the chestnut blight fungus C. parasitica in Georgia and the Balkans by using different types of genetic markers, and (2) to evaluate novel application methods and perform practical biological control experiments in collaboration with end users.SignificanceEuropean chestnut is an important multipurpose tree species grown for fruit and wood production in many rural areas of Europe. Our project will contribute to a better understanding of a serious disease of chestnut trees and will help to restore and protect infested chestnut orchards and forests. This multilateral project will also allow the continuation and strengthening of partnerships among research groups from Switzerland, Macedonia, Croatia, and Georgia.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Characterization of hypovirulent isolates of the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica from the Marmara and Black Sea regions of Turkey
Akilli S, Serce CU, Katircioglu YZ, Maden S, Rigling D (2013), Characterization of hypovirulent isolates of the chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica from the Marmara and Black Sea regions of Turkey, in EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PLANT PATHOLOGY, 135(2), 323-334.
Discovery of a new gene pool and a high genetic diversity of the chestnut blight fungus Cryphonectria parasitica in Caucasian Georgia
Prospero Simone, Lutz Andi, Tavadze Bidzina, Supatashvili Archil, Rigling Daniel (2013), Discovery of a new gene pool and a high genetic diversity of the chestnut blight fungus Cryphonectria parasitica in Caucasian Georgia, in Infection, Genetics and Evolution , 20, 131-139.
Distribution of chestnut blight and diversity of Cryphonectria parasitica in chestnut forests in Bulgaria
Risteski M., Milev M., Rigling D., Milgroom MG., Bryner SF., Sotirovski K. (2013), Distribution of chestnut blight and diversity of Cryphonectria parasitica in chestnut forests in Bulgaria, in Forest Pathology, 43, 437-443.
Informative value of canker morphology on the presence or absence of virus infection in chestnut blight cankers
Bryner S. F., Sotirovski K., Akilli S., Risteski M., Perlerou C., Rigling D. (2013), Informative value of canker morphology on the presence or absence of virus infection in chestnut blight cankers, in Forest Pathology, 43, 496-504.
High diversity in populations of the introduced plant pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, due to encounters between genetically divergent genotypes.
Ježić Marin, Krstin Ljiljana, Rigling Daniel, Curković-Perica Mirna (2012), High diversity in populations of the introduced plant pathogen, Cryphonectria parasitica, due to encounters between genetically divergent genotypes., in Molecular Ecology, 21(1), 87-99.
Hypovirus virulence and vegetative incompatibility in populations of the chestnut blight fungus.
Rigling Daniel, Bryner Sarah Franziska (2012), Hypovirus virulence and vegetative incompatibility in populations of the chestnut blight fungus., in Phytopathology, 102(12), 1161-1167.
Invasion history and demographic pattern of Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 across European populations of the chestnut blight fungus.
Bryner Sarah F, Rigling Daniel, Brunner Patrick C (2012), Invasion history and demographic pattern of Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 across European populations of the chestnut blight fungus., in Ecology and evolution, 2(12), 3227-41.
Diversity of vegetative compatibility types and mating types of Cryphonectria parasitica in Slovenia and occurrence of associated Cryphonectria hypovirus 1
Krstin L, Novak-Agbaba S, Rigling D, Curkovic-Perica M (2011), Diversity of vegetative compatibility types and mating types of Cryphonectria parasitica in Slovenia and occurrence of associated Cryphonectria hypovirus 1, in PLANT PATHOLOGY, 60(4), 752-761.
Variation in virulence of Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 in Macedonia
Sotirovski K, Rigling D, Heiniger U, Milgroom MG (2011), Variation in virulence of Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 in Macedonia, in FOREST PATHOLOGY, 41(1), 59-65.
Castanea sativa: genotype-dependent recovery from chestnut blight
Jezic Marin, Krstin Ljiljana, Poljak Igor, Liber Zlatko, Idzojtic Marilena, Jelic Marija, Mestrovic Jasenka, Zebec Marko, Curkovic-Perica Mirna, Castanea sativa: genotype-dependent recovery from chestnut blight, in Tree Genetics and Genomes.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Faculty of Forestry, University of Zagreb Croatia (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
ETH-Zurich, EAWAG Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Institute of Botany, Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences Aserbaijan (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Growers association „Lovranski marun“ Croatia (Europe)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
University of Forestry, Sofia Bulgaria (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Cankiri University, Ankara University Turkey (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Plant Diseases and Resistance Mechanisms, VIPCA 2013 Talk given at a conference 19.02.2013 Vienna, Austria Curkovic-Perica Mirna;
5th Croatian Congress of Microbiology with International Participation Talk given at a conference 26.09.2012 Primosten, Croatia Curkovic-Perica Mirna;
5th International Chestnut Symposium Talk given at a conference 04.09.2012 Shepherdstown, WV, USA, United States of America Rigling Daniel;
International Conference of Molecular Ecology Poster 04.02.2012 Vienna, Austria Curkovic-Perica Mirna;
4th Congress of European Microbiologists, FEMS 2011 Poster 26.06.2011 Geneva, Switzerland, Switzerland Curkovic-Perica Mirna;
Biodiversity Talk given at a conference 16.12.2010 Zagreb, Croatia Curkovic-Perica Mirna;
XXXV traditional plant protection meeting of the Republic of Macedonia Talk given at a conference 23.11.2010 Ohrid, Macedonia, Macedonia Sotirovski Kiril;
3rd Croatian Botanical Congress 2010 Talk given at a conference 23.09.2010 Murter, Croatia Curkovic-Perica Mirna;
IOBC/WPRS Biological control of fungal and bacterial pathogens Poster 07.06.2010 Graz, Austria Curkovic-Perica Mirna;
International conference “Forestry – Bridge to the future” Talk given at a conference 13.05.2010 Sofia, Bulgaria, Bulgaria Sotirovski Kiril; Curkovic-Perica Mirna;
III International conference on Environmental, Industrial and Applied Microbiology, BioMicroWorld 2009 Poster 02.12.2009 Lisabon, Portugal Curkovic-Perica Mirna;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
In cooperation with the NGO Bela Vista from Tetovo, Dr. Sotirovski held two presentations on the topic of chestnut blight and various aspects of chestnut production for the local populations in the villages of Vratnica and Tearce in November 2012. 01.11.2012 Vratnica, Tearce, Macedonia, Macedonia Sotirovski Kiril;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Lecture on biological control of chestnut blight for chestnut growers 20.04.2010 Lovran, Croatia

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Kastanienrindenkrebs in Georgien WSL News German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Biological control of chestnut blight Novi list International 2012
Media relations: print media, online media Article on D. kuriphilus Lovranski list International 2011

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
152525 Invasive chestnut diseases in the Balkans and Georgia - epidemiological research and management options. 01.05.2014 SCOPES
111089 Epidemiology and population structure of Cryphonectria parasitica and associated Cryphonectria hypoviruses in the Balkans 01.10.2005 SCOPES
180651 Dynamics of virus infection in mycovirus-mediated biological control of a fungal pathogen 01.04.2019 Croatian-Swiss Research Programme (CSRP)

Abstract

Biological control is a highly desirable means of pest and disease management in natural and managed forest ecosystems. This control method depends on the invasion of a pest population by a biocontrol agent (e.g. a hyperparasite), which ideally can spread and establish in a self-sustainable way.Chestnut blight caused by the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica is an introduced disease responsible for a widespread decline of European chestnut (Castanea sativa) across its distribution range. C. sativa is an important multipurpose tree species in many rural areas. Wood is used for fuel, timber, poles, stackes, and as a natural source of tannins, while fruits are used for food - directly or manufactured, as well as for feeding live-stock. Tanning and food industry depend on the supply of these raw materials from chestnut trees. Because C. parasitica is regulated as a quarantine organism in Europe, its presence in a country also affects trading of chestnut plants and wood. Cryphonectria hypovirus1 (CHV-1) is a fungal dsRNA virus that infects C. parasitica and has the potential to be used as a biological control agent of the disease. The hypovirus can be transmitted from infected to non-infected C. parasitica strains via hyphal anastomoses that are formed between vegetatively compatible strains. The virus is vertically transmited into asexual conidia, but not into sexual ascospores. The invasion of C. parasitica populations by the hypovirus appears to be highly influenced by the population biology of the fungus. Spread is favoured by low diversity of vegetative compatibility (vc) types and limited sexual reproduction. Therefore, the information and understanding of the population structure and epidemiology of C. parasitica and the hypovirus is important for the success of biological control of chestnut blight. CHV-1 has been naturally established in some areas in Europe, for example in the Ticino. Chestnut blight has been managed with variable success in other areas e.g. North of the Alps in Switzerland, by means of artificially introducing CHV-1 into C. parasitica populations. In previous SCOPES projects we investigated the diversity of vc types, mating types and naturally occuring hypoviruses in Croatia and Macedonia, which provides the basis for selection of fungal host strains and hypovirus isolates to be used for biological control in the region. In this project, we will extend our investigations to Georgia, a country with large natural chestnut forests, which have been affected recently by chestnut blight. The main objective of the research in Georgia will be to investigate the distribution of chestnut blight and to characterize the resident C. parasitica population. Since up to date, chestnut blight has not been studied in the Caucasus, our results will be an important contribution to the current knowledge of C. parasitica on European chestnut and will provide the basis for biological control of the diseases in this region. In Croatia and Switzerland, detailed population analyses will be conducted by using neutral microsatellite markers, which will enable a more deepened insight into the population biology and colonization history of C. parasitica. Additional studies in Macedonia, Croatia, and Switzerland will be directed to the implementation of biological control. In this research, we will evaluate novel application methods and perform practical biological control experiments in collaboration with end users.This project will allow the continuation and strengthening of established partnerships with research groups in Macedonia and Croatia. Moreover, the network will be expanded to Georgia, which can directly benefit from our growing experience on this serious tree disease. The funds will be used for equipment and consumables, individual grants and for exchange visits and training of young scientists.
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