Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Tracking Down the Ash Tree Killer


Volatile lactone of Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus inhibits germination of ash seeds

The leaves wilt, the crown dies off, the bark exhibits lesions, the wood becomes discolored – the ash forests of Europe are under threat. The perpetrator is an Asian fungus, and its progress is unstoppable. In order to develop effective countermeasures, the transmission pathway, progression of the disease, and propagation of the fungus must be clarified. German researchers have now identified a metabolic product of this killer fungus that inhibits the germination of ash seeds. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, they report on possible mechanisms for this activity.

Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus looks almost identical to its harmless relative, Hymenoscyphus albidus, but it causes heavy damage to the common ash, Fraxinus excelsior. Over the last two decades, this killer fungus from the Far East has rapidly spread from east to west across Europe, reaching the British Isles in 2012. There is no decline of the disease in sight. Only a small subpopulation of European ash trees seems to be resistant to this fungus, but it is unclear whether this portion is large enough to ensure the survival of this ecologically and economically important tree species, which is found in nearly all of Europe and parts of Asia around the Black Sea.

A team led by Jeroen S. Dickschat at the Technische Universität Braunschweig has extracted the volatile and nonvolatile metabolic products of the fungus and studied them by spectroscopic methods. The researchers found a suspect among the volatile compounds: in laboratory experiments, the lactone 3,4-dimethylpentan-4-olide inhibits the germination of ash seeds and causes necrosis.

Surprisingly, this compound is also found in nonpathogenic fungi. “Metabolites from the plants may play a role here by regulating the production of the lactone differently in different species of fungus,” suggests Dickschat. “This could also explain why Japanese ash trees are not affected by this fungus and some individuals of the European ash are also relatively resistant.” Another explanation could be the interaction between the lactone and certain microorganisms that are found in the European ash. “Such a mechanism would allow endophytes to act as mediators between the plant and its pathogen,” explains Dickschat. “A comparable mechanism has previously been discovered in another case: Lactones in the smoke produced by burning plants promote germination through a process in which interactions with plant bacteria might play a critical role.”

These new discoveries are important milestones in understanding ash dieback and possible mechanisms of resistance in the unaffected populations of ash. Says Dickschat: “The identification of the lactone as the virulence factor will hopefully pave the way for control of a pathogen that currently threatens the entire population of ash trees in Europe.”

About the Author

Dr. Jeroen S. Dickschat is Assitant Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Technical University of Braunschweig and recipient of the Dechema Young Scientists' Award for Natural Product Research 2014. His research interests focus on the biosynthesis and function of volatile natural products from microorganisms.

Author: Jeroen S. Dickschat, Technische Universtiät Braunschweig (Germany),

Title: A Volatile Lactone of Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus, Pathogen of European Ash Dieback, Inhibits Host Germination

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article:

Jeroen S. Dickschat | Angewandte Chemie

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>