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UnRaveling host­pathoGEn iNteracTions in pine pitch canker disease

Project: Research


Climate change and biotic agents are altering the growth performance and sustainability of forest resources. Understanding how planted forest trees adapt to harsh environmental conditions is crucial to sus¬tain productivity. Pine forest covers an area of more than 50 million hectares in Europe. Maritime pine (Pinus pinaster Ait.) is the most important pine species in Portugal and occupies over 714,000 ha, representing 23 % of the national forest area (ICNF 2013) and having an extreme economic importance to wood and paper industries. Pitch canker, caused by the fungus Fusarium circinatum, is an introduced non-native pine disease in natural and planted stands of Europe subject to quarantine measures. It is a highly virulent pathogen that damages pines, causing damping-off in nurseries and pitch canker. This project will focus on Maritime pine for two main reasons: its economic and ecological relevance and the lack of studies associating Fusarium with these hosts in Portugal (as almost Europe), despite being known as high potential threat to all European pine forests.

URGENTpine will tackle this problem using a multidisciplinary approach, by monitoring and identifying Fusarium isolates in Portuguese plantations, acting as a research platform to explore host-pathogen interactions and testing environmental-friendly strategies for biocontrol of forest plant pathogens. Host responses to pathogen infection will be examined in order to improve knowledge gaps and to develop markers for selection of pitch canker-resistant genotypes and improve plant health strategies. URGENTpine covers a broad range of basic and applied research. It will provide a high profile platform by adopting a substantially cross-disciplinary approach (from physiology to Omics) to create knowledge and tools to explore the intricate defence system against pathogens for forest trees having Pinus-Fusarium interaction as a model.
Effective start/end date1/06/1630/11/19

Research outputs