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Preservation of Central Asian fruit tree forest ecosystems from bacterial pathogen Erwinia amylovora (fire blight)

Blühende Malus niedzwetzkyana, eine gefährdete in Zentralasien einheimische Apfelspezies (Foto: J. Samanchina, Fauna & Flora International)

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Description

Fire blight is a severe bacterial disease of apple and pear that can quickly destroy whole orchards. In the last few years it arrived also in Central Asia, where pomaceous fruit plants represent the dominant species in mid-altitude forests and constitute a critical foundation for the entire ecosystem. Fire blight is thus a major threat not only for the living genetic resources represented by native apple trees (Central Asia is the center of origin of domesticated apple), but represents also a menace for the already endangered flora and fauna species that are dependent thereof and the local rural economies that subsist on the forest’s natural resources. In this R4D project, we aim to understand and minimize the impact of fire blight in Central Asia using a multifaceted approach that ranges from field-applicable molecular diagnostic procedures and investigation of the dissemination patterns to the development of locally-adapted phytosanitary strategies and conservation efforts. This R4D project will run for four years and is conducted jointly with the Kyrgyz–Turkish Manas University in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and the Tethys Scientific Society in Almaty (Kazakhstan).

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