Ash Tree Genome Can Help Treat Fungal Disease

Posted: Dec 27 2016, 5:29am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Ash Tree Genome can Help Treat Fungal Disease
Ash tree dying from ash dieback fungal disease. The disease has the potential to wipe out 90 per cent of the European ash tree population, which is one of the most common trees in Britain. Credit: Getty Images
  • Ash Tree can treat fungal disease

Queen Mary University of London researchers discovered the genetic sequence of ash tree that can treat fungal disease, ash dieback.

Recently a research showed that millions of ash trees are dying in Europe because of fungus disease. In the disease, named Hymenoscyphus fraxinea fungus, the tree becomes infected with ash dieback fungus. You can see infected ash tree with cankers on its bark and dry leaves.

Ash tree makes a sequence of genome that creates ash trees which are resistant to ash dieback, stated Project leader Dr. Richard Bugg from QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

The researchers found some ash trees that showed resistance to fungus because they had genome genes in them. According to the scientists, the ash genome has several surprises in the form of orphan genes which are not present in several other plants. Orphan genes are very fascinating, because the scientists yet don’t know how they formed, stated Dr. Bugg.

The research published in the journal Nature in collaboration with different scientists at QMUL, the Earlham Institute, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, University of York, University of Exeter, University of Warwick, Earth Trust, University of Oxford, Forest Research, Teagasc, John Innes Centre, and National Institute of Agricultural Botany.

University of York used the genome discovered by QMUL, and found that they have genes that resist ash dieback. The scientists also discovered several ash trees in the UK which has such resistance.

The genome will also help in treating other ash tree diseases, like Emerald Ash Borer that killed millions of ash trees in North America.

Ash trees play an important role in the ecosystems as many butterflies and wildflowers depend on ash trees for shelter.In Britain alone there are more than 1000 species of ash trees. Ash timber is used to make sport handles, and several other tools, like hockey sticks, and hammers, etc.

The research was funded and supported by NERC, BBSRC, Defra, ESRC, the Forestry Commission, the Scottish Government, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, Teagasc, and the Agriculture and Food Development Authority.

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