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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Non-oak native plants are main hosts for sudden oak death pathogen in California


The finding of Phytophthora ramorum — the pathogen that causes sudden oak death in four California native trees — on rhododendron in Europe led us to hypothesize that its host range in California’s natural forests was much greater than previously suspected. In addition to the affected oak species, we have now identified an additional 13 species from 10 plant families that act as hosts for P. ramorum in California. Our data indicates that nearly all of the state’s main tree species in mixed-evergreen and redwood-tanoak forests — including the coniferous timber species coast redwood and Douglas fir — may be hosts for P. ramorum. The broad host range of P. ramorum, the variability of symptoms among different hosts and the ability of the pathogen to disperse by air suggests that it may have the potential to cause long-term, landscape-level changes in California forests.

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