Researcher of Institute of Forestry, Department of Forest Protection and Game Management, several times was in short term scientific missions in the Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Forestry is one of the major economic engines of Nordic countries as well as a socio-cultural icon. However, climate change and increasing international trade of plants and plant products are presenting major challenges to the health of forests that potentially threaten the forest sector’s sustainability. Over the last 200 years, the number of invasive forest pathogens introduced to Europe has increased exponentially. Referred to as “biological bulldozers”, invasive, introduced phytophthora-pathogens are currently one of the most serious and challenging forest health problems in the world, affecting agricultural crops, forests, and the urban landscape.
The overall aim of this internship was to provide new scientific information, with high practical relevance, on the genetics, distribution and diversity of newly established Phytophthora spp. in Nordic and Baltic countries and their impact on biodiversity.
The genus Pinus includes some of the most ecologically and economically significant forest tree species in Northern Hemisphere, and is also commonly planted in the southern hemisphere in industrial plantations. Because of this importance, pines are the focus of considerable research including mycological work to determine fungi associated with all parts of the trees, including mutualists, pathogens and endophytes. Knowledge of the diversity and biogeographic distributions of needle inhabiting fungi, as well as the role of these organisms and factors shaping these communities remains limited. The overall aim of this internship was to provide new scientific information, with high practical relevance, on the fungal species diversity of native and exotic Pinus species planted in arboreta in Lithuania, and their implications for invasive species introductions.
In recent years, several pine pathogens have increased in importance, including needle diseases such as Dothistroma needle blight (Dothistroma septosporum), brown spot needle blight (Lecanosticta acicola), and Diplodia sapinea causing tip blight of pines; all of which are recognized alien invasive pathogens that result in extensive needle loss or shoot dieback and causing large ecological and economic losses to trees planted in forests and urban landscapes. The introduction rates of these and other harmful ascomycete pathogens to Europe have continuously increased over the years, particularly in the Baltics. The overall aim of this internship was to provide new scientific information, with high practical relevance, on the fungal species diversity of native and NNT planted in common gardens and arboreta and their implications for invasive species introductions.
Over the last 15 years, the prominence of Phytophthora tree pathogens in Northern Europe has increased dramatically. This is believed to reflect a marked increase in the introduction and spread of invasive Phytophthora spp. via imported planting stock. The situation is probably not due to the global trade of plants alone, but also connected to changes in climate conditions over the last 60 years, i. e. increased mean winter temperatures, seasonal precipitation shifts from summer into winter, and a tendency for heavy rain; all factors favouring pathogen activity (infection and spread) by several species of Phytophthora.
In this internship, a “Citizen Science” platform was used to advance the spatial prediction of invasive forest Phytophthoras by providing the public with inexpensive location-based, time series data of unprecedented quantity and distribution. A key component of the “Citizen Science” platform is public education through information dissemination, seminars and training workshops.