The forest is one of our most important natural resources supplying us with timber, paper and energy as well as being important for biodiversity and recreation purposes. Fungal pathogens may significantly reduce productivity of our forests. Root rot caused by Heterobasidion species is estimated to cost 70 million Euros annually for Swedish forest owners and the last epidemic of the fungus Gremmeniella abietina in 2001 damaged about 400 000 ha of Swedish Scots pine forest.
Spruce forest. Photo: Jan Stenlid.
Predictions suggest a future change in climate together with more intensified forestry in order to meet the increasing demand of forest products. Both forest management practices and climate can affect the susceptibility of trees to infection and the capacity of pathogenic fungi to cause damage. Root rot caused by Heterobasidion species, is one example of fungal pathogens that have increased due to modern management practices. The growth and activity of most fungal pathogens are very sensitive to factors such as temperature and humidity. Gremmeniella abietina is one pathogen whose damages are dependent on climate conditions. A changing climate may also allow the introduction of new fungal diseases, such as Dothistroma needle blight, Pitch canker (Fusarium circinatum) and Diplodia shoot and needle blight. The expected climate change, with increasing temperatures, increasing precipitation and higher frequency of extreme events will most likely affect disease frequencies in our future forests.
We use different methods ranging from molecular tools such as high-throughput pyrosequencing to large scale geographical distribution models to explore the dynamics of fungal pathogens in relation to management practices and climate. Many of our project are done in conjunction with large scale projects such as Future Forest, BACCARA, ISEFOR and FUNDIV.
Risk assessment and establishment of a system to address potential pathogens in Nordic forestry as a result of climate change (2012). The project was funded by SNS.
Contact: Johanna Boberg & Anna Hopkins
The Rotstand model-a model developed to calculate the extent of damage caused by Heterobasidion annosum. Contact: Jonàs Oliva and Jan Stenlid