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Ash dieback breakthrough as scientists learn to spot resistant trees

By Sarah Knapton

Scientists can now predict which trees will survive ash dieback so they can begin replanting Britain's decimated woodland. Britain’s forests have been granted a reprieve from the deadly disease ash dieback, after scientists discovered how to predict which trees will survive an infection.

Researchers at the University of York and the John Innes Centre have found genetic markers which can be used to predict trees that are resistant to the disease, which can then be planted to replace lost woodland.

There are around 157,000 hectares of ash woodland in Britain with 68 million trees as well as a further 12 million ash trees outside those areas. Nearly 1,000 cases of ash dieback have been reported across the UK and in some areas as little as two per cent of the trees remain.

However the new research means that many of the diseased areas can now be replanted with resistant saplings, and Britain’s ash forests returned to their former glory.

Researchers sequenced the genetic code of trees to discover which were immune to the disease. They then used the results to develop a test which predicts a low level of susceptibility to the fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus fraxineus.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016