British Scientists have Revived a 70-Year-Old Tree-Killing Fungus
OREANDA-NEWS. Scientists from London Imperial College have resuscitated cryogenically frozen 70-year-old samples of a fungus that causes coffee tree wilt — tracheomycosis. The researchers wanted to find out how the disease developed in the past and how to prevent it's spread in the future, according to the institution's website.
Tracheomycosis is characterized by damage to the xylem (the main water-carrying tissue of terrestrial plants). It is caused by fungi and fungi-like organisms. According to the type of nutrition, the pathogens of this disease belong to necrotrophs. Since the 1920s, tracheomycosis has led to the death of plantations in sub-Saharan Africa, and it still affects two of the most popular coffees: arabica and robusta. The last major outbreak in 2011 destroyed 55,000 robusta trees in Tanzania.
After studying the «animated» samples of the fungus and comparing them with modern ones, the scientists suggested that it's ability to infect coffee trees has increased. This could be due to crossbreeding with a closely related fungus that affects banana plantations. The researchers believe that it is possible to reduce the risk of new strains by planting coffee trees separately from other crops. A similar precaution can be applied to other cultivated plants.