Dehesa health starts from the ground up | 4/5/2019 | Staff
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Holm oak decline threatens dehesa sustainability. Though the pseudofungus oomycete Phytophthora cinnamomisería is thought to be the main cause of holm oak decline, climate conditions have been shown to influence it, as well. Even so, this puzzle has yet to be solved.

In search of the last few pieces to understand how the disease develops, University of Cordoba Forest Engineering researchers Francisco Ruiz and Rafael Mª Navarro, in collaboration with researcher Alejandro Pérez de Luque from IFAPA (Agricultural and Fishing Training Research Institute of Andalusia, Alameda del Obispo center), and international researchers, carried out a study on microorganism biodiversity in soil using molecular techniques to analyze if and how interactions among soil microorganisms influence the seriousness of the disease.

Study - Fungi - Soil - Interactions - Addition

The study focused on fungi and oomycetes that live in soil, and the interactions that occur among them. In addition, it confirms that changes in microbiota structure and biodiversity are fundamental for woodland health in two ways: On the one hand, interactions among soil microorganisms directly influence pathogens that affect holm oak, and on the other, the presence of some beneficial microorganisms helps to improve the trees' health.

A well-known biocontrol agent, Trichoderma, appeared to be related to the absence or scarcity of oomycete pathogens. Additionally, an abundance of mycorrhizae resulted in less defoliation of the woodland. These microorganisms are able to establish antagonistic relationships with the pathogens, and increase a tree's ability to absorb and stimulate an autoimmune response. In other words, a structure conducive to the fungi community and the presence of key beneficial species provides the oak with more resources to defend itself from the...
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