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Monitoring and diagnostics of forest quarantine pathogens in Switzerland

 

Invasive pests and pathogens are increasingly threatening forests and natural ecosystems worldwide. We are monitoring the status of quarantine pathogens in Switzerland and providing molecular diagnostics for forest pests and diseases.

 

 

Through the international trade invasive pests and diseases are introduced into new environments. The introduction of harmful organisms often has occurred through the import of plants for planting, wood products and wood packaging material. Switzerland has adopted international plant quarantine measures to prevent entry and spread of pests and diseases. These measures include (1) yearly inspection of susceptible plants in nurseries and garden centres in the frame of the European plant passport system; (2) yearly surveys in the forests and other outdoor sites (parks, gardens, public greens); (3) Pest eradication and surveillance of outbreak sites; and (4) inspections of wood imports and wood packaging material.

 

Monitoring

In collaboration with the Swiss plant protection service we are monitoring the occurrence of four forest quarantine pathogens in Switzerland: The sudden oak death pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum; pine wood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus; chestnut blight fungus, Cryphonectria parasitica; pitch canker fungus, Gibberellacircinata

Molecular Diagnostics

Molecular methods (DNA analysis) offer the potential to identify any unknown organism or detect it within a sample. We are using these methods to analyse samples collected during surveys and inspections. Samples include pathogens (e.g. Phytophthora spp.), exotic insects, and insect larvae (e.g. of the Asian longhorn beetle), which otherwise are difficult to identify. To evaluate our diagnostic methods we are participating in international proficiency tests.