Friday, September 3, 2010

MDA Completes Survey for Oak-killing Fungus: Not Found in State

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) has completed a detection survey for Phytophthora ramorum, the fungal pathogen responsible for Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a plant disease causing widespread decline and mortality of oak trees in the far western U.S.

In early May, MDA staff conducted inspections and sampling at 30 high-risk nursery growers and dealers throughout the state. Samples were processed at both MDA and Michigan State University plant pathology laboratories using molecular and DNA methods. All samples tested negative for P. ramorum.

“This survey is another example of the MDA’s efforts to protect the state’s agricultural and natural resources for future generations to experience and enjoy,” says Don Koivisto, MDA Director. “Early detection and apid response programs are crucial for dealing successfully with exotic pests.”

Because of the large volume of plant material imported from western states, Michigan is at high risk for importing P. ramorum on infested nursery plants and can easily be transported long distances on a wide variety of ornamental plants, including: azalea, lilac, rhododendron, and viburnum.

“Many Michigan nursery growers, wholesalers, and dealers import plant material from the West Coast,” says Mike Bryan, MDA’s Nursery Program Manager. “It is essential to survey and, in the event of a positive detection, take prompt regulatory action to keep markets open for the state’s nursery businesses and prevent the establishment of P. ramorum in the state.”

Since 2004, the MDA has analyzed more than 3,500 plants at 120 high-risk nurseries throughout the state. Phytopthora ramorum has never been found in Michigan.

Although in the United States, Sudden Oak Death has only been found in California and Oregon, it’s concerning because at least to oak species - northern pin and northern red - are highly susceptible to the disease. The disease does not affect humans and is not a food safety concern.

For more information on Sudden Oak Death, click here: