The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has launched a bioscience response to ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea), a devastating fungus that threatens our third most common broadleaf tree (after oak and birch).
2.4M of fast-track research funding has been awarded to gather an in-depth understanding of the ash dieback fungus and to provide genetic clues about some ash trees' natural resistance to attack. Computer models will also be built to develop monitoring plans for the distribution and spread of the fungus, as well as charting how the disease might progress. This knowledge will help to fight the fungus and replace lost trees with those more able to survive.
BBSRC Chief Executive Professor Douglas Kell said: "This agile funding response will ensure we improve our understanding of this devastating tree disease as quickly as possible. Little is known about the fungus, why it is so aggressive, or its interactions with the trees that it attacks. This prevents effective control strategies. These grants will enable the UK's world-leading bioscience community to speed up the response to tackling the disease directly. It will also help us to understand and harness the ways in which some ash trees can defend themselves naturally."
Funding has been awarded to the Nornex consortium that brings together tree health and forestry specialists with scientists working with state-of-the-art genetic sequencing, biological data and imaging technologies to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of interactions between the fungus and ash trees.
Led by Professor Allan Downie at the John Innes Centre (JIC), the consortium includes: The Sainsbury Laboratory, East Malling Research, the University of Exeter, The Genepool at the University of Edinburgh, The Genome Analysis Centre, the Food and Environment Research Agency, Forest Research, the University of Copenhagen and the Norwegia
|Contact: Rob Dawson|
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council