Head: Dr. Simone Prospero
We investigate plant-pathogen interactions in changing environments with a focus on pathogens of forest and ornamental woody plants. Diseases caused by plant pathogens significantly affect ecosystem services and biodiversity. Their impact is expected to increase, as global trade and climate change will facilitate the movement and establishment of invasive pathogens. We use genetic and epidemiological approaches to understand the biology of pathogen populations at different spatial and temporal scales including their responses to forest management and environmental change. Special emphasis is given to the dynamics and control of invasive quarantine organisms. To fulfil legal requirements when working with such pathogens, the group is operating special plant protection laboratories.
Our research provides the basis for pest risk analysis, diagnostics and management of plant diseases, such as the biological control of chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica). Main outreach activities include supporting federal and cantonal authorities in the prevention and containment of quarantine pathogens (e.g. the sudden oak death pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum; pine wood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; pitch canker fungus, Gibberella circinata).