University of Sussex experts aiming to stop spread of Ash dieback disease

The Argus: University of Sussex experts aiming to stop spread of Ash dieback disease University of Sussex experts aiming to stop spread of Ash dieback disease

University boffins are hoping to stop the spread of the ash dieback disease which threatened thousands of trees in 2012.

Researchers at the University of Sussex are developing a new fungicide treatment to stop the growth of Chalara fraxinea, which causes ash dieback.

Led by Professor Tony Moore, these organisms have been tested at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich during independent trials.

The compounds created by Prof Moore stop an enzyme that develops resistance to treatments from working.


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If developed, the compounds may be effective for longer and need less frequent spraying on trees.

Professor Moore hopes in the future the fungicides could also be used to better protect cereal crops from dangerous infectious fungi.

As well as protecting yields, they could lessen the environmental damage caused by multiple sprayings.

The University of Sussex is currently working with the Sussex Innovation Centre to help bring the compounds to market and is seeking commercial partners to develop fungicides for a range of applications.

Ian Carter, director of research and enterprise at the University of Sussex, said: “It’s extremely encouraging to see the successful trials of Professor Moore’s innovation coming out of The Sainsbury Laboratory.

“We’re delighted that research at Sussex is producing such promising results and helping to provide solutions to real global problems.”

If developed further, the treatment could be used on infected nursery stock or ash plantations that are blighted by the ash dieback disease.

Ash dieback was first reported in Britain in early 2012.

At one point conservationists feared ancient trees in Brighton and Hove could be wiped out by the disease but a Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said there had been no recent signs of symptoms.

He said: “The Arboricultural Section have carried out regular inspections of our areas of woodlands and parks for signs of the fungus Chalara fraxinea and to date no symptoms have been recorded in the city.

“To try to control the spread of the disease we are currently not purchasing any ash species for planting schemes because of the possibility of infected nurseries.”

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