Thursday, August 02, 2018

Beech leaf disease spreading in northeastern U.S.

Diseased beech leaves
(Plain Dealer photo)
In recent years a baffling disease has been spreading among beech trees in northeastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario. It causes beech leaves to curl and fall off prematurely, and eventually kills affected trees. Ohio naturalist John Pogacnik first discovered it in 2012 in Lake County, Ohio, near Cleveland, James McCarty reports for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.

"I've sent samples to the U.S. Forestry Service and Ohio State, and contacted botanists in Europe and Asia, and no one has ever heard of it. So where did it come from?" Pogacnik told McCarty. "The worst part is that until someone figures out what is causing it, you can't begin to stop it."

Scientists are studying samples to try and identify the cause of the disease. At Ohio State University, tree and plant pathology professor Enrico Bonello has obtained a grant to study the disease and has already assembled a research team. And U.S. Forest Service plant pathologist James Jacobs has organized a two-day working group conference at Cleveland Metroparks next May for researchers to discuss possible solutions to the disease, McCarty reports.

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