Sudden oak death slowed by California drought

By on July 2, 2014

Dead tanoak in Marin County, Calif. (Credit: USFS Region 5, via Flickr)

One bright spot in the ongoing drought in California has been improved water quality at the state’s beaches. Now it also appears to be helping oak trees fight a destructive pathogen, according to The Guardian. The pathogen is the main cause for sudden oak death.

Researchers investigating spread of the pathogen, P. ramorum, use bay trees as a starting point because high infection rates in bays seem to precede similar rates in oaks. A typical infection rate for bay trees is between 20 to 80 percent, but ongoing surveys from summer 2014 indicate this year’s infection rates at 2 to 10 percent.

Scientists hope to use the lower infection rates to their advantage and plan to kill off the pathogen in as many areas as possible so that future outbreaks may be smaller. This will largely involve downing diseased bay trees.

Image: Dead tanoak in Marin County, Calif. (Credit: USFS Region 5, via Flickr)

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