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Pest categorisation of Gremmeniella abietina

Michael Jeger, Claude Bragard, David Caffier, Thierry Candresse, Elisavet Chatzivassiliou, Katharina Dehnen-Schmutz, Gianni Gilioli, Jean-Claude Gregoire, Josep A. Jaques Miret, Alan MacLeod, Maria Navajas Navarro, Björn Niere, Stephen Parnell, Roel Potting, Trond Rafoss, Vittorio Rossi, Gregor Urek, Ariena Van Bruggen, Wopke Van der Werf, Jonathan West, Stephan Winter, Johanna Boberg, Paolo Gonthier, Marco Pautasso

Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Plant Health (PLH) Panel performed a pest categorisation of Gremmeniella abietina, a well-defined species and distinguishable fungus of the family Godroniaceae. The species G. abietina includes several varieties, races and biotypes that are found in different geographical locations, on different hosts and that vary in aggressiveness. The pathogen causes diseases on Pinus species and other conifers such as Abies spp., Picea spp., Larix spp. and Pseudotsuga spp. known as Scleroderris canker in North America and Brunchorstia dieback in Europe. G. abietina has been reported from 19 EU Member States, without apparent ecoclimatic factors limiting establishment. The pathogen is a protected zone (PZ) quarantine pest (Annex IIB) for Ireland and the UK (Northern Ireland). The main European hosts are widespread throughout most of the EU and have been frequently planted in the PZ. The main means of spread are wind-blown ascospores, rain-splashed conidia, plants for planting and traded Christmas trees. Given that G. abietina is most damaging to species that are grown towards the limit of their range, impacts can be expected in the PZ, should the pathogen be introduced there. Risk reduction options include selection of disease-free planting material, nursery inspections, selection of planting sites at some distance from infested plantations, appropriate spacing between plants and thinning. The main uncertainties concern the indeterminate endophytic stage of the fungus, the pathogen distribution and the future taxonomic status of G. abietina, given its intraspecific diversity. All the criteria assessed by the Panel for consideration as potential PZ quarantine pest are met. The criterion of plants for planting being the main pathway for spread for regulated non-quarantine pests is not met: plants for planting are only one of the means of spread of the pathogen.

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Conclusions. [...]
Identity of the pest ▹ The identity of the pest as a species is clear.
[...]
The species G. abietina includes several varieties, races and biotypes that are found in different geographical locations, on different hosts and that vary in aggressiveness. This could lead to a revision of the identity of the pest in the future. [...]
Absence/presence of the pest in the EU territory ▹ G. abietina is present in the EU and has been reported from 19 MS. The pathogen is listed as ‘Absent, confirmed by survey’ in both PZ (Ireland and in Northern Ireland).
[...]
There is some uncertainty on the distribution of G. abietina in the EU, including the PZ. This is because the official reports documenting absence go back to 1993 and 2009. [...]
Regulatory status ▹ G. abietina is regulated by Council Directive 2000/29/EC on plants of Abies, Larix, Picea, Pinus and Pseudotsuga, intended for planting, other than seeds, for Protected Zones (Annex II, Part B) (Ireland and the UK (Northern Ireland). [...]
Pest potential for entry, establishment and spread in the EU territory ▹ Entry: the pest has been reported from 19 EU MS and could enter the EU PZ.
Establishment: the pest is already established in 19 EU MS, some of which (e.g. the UK) have a climate similar to the one found in the PZ (Ireland and Northern Ireland).
Spread: the pest would be able to spread within the PZ of the EU following establishment, via airborne ascospores, rain-splashed conidia, infected plants for planting, Christmas trees and, possibly, wood with bark. [...]
The pathogen can be spread by plants for planting, but also via airborne ascospores and rain-splashed conidia. [...]
There is uncertainty over:
the host status of hosts not currently regulated, e.g. Cedrus libani
whether infected wood with bark could be an effective means of spread of the pathogen
whether disposal of infected rootless Christmas trees could carry the pathogen
and whether wood products such as wood chips could provide a means of spread. [...]
Potential for consequences in the EU territory ▹ Given that G. abietina is most damaging to species that are grown towards the limit of their range, and given that the PZ are outside of the native range of the main hosts of the pathogen (Picea abies and Pinus sylvestris), which are nonetheless planted in the PZ, impact can be expected in the PZ, if the pathogen is introduced there. [...]
G. abietina could be of economic importance on the use of plants for planting in the EU MS where it is reported because of the requirement for nurseries producing for the PZ to be certified as pest-free. [...]
(Key uncertainties) Differential responses of the different hosts to the different biotypes of G. abietina. [...]
Available measures ▹ Selection of disease-free planting material, selection of planting sites at some distance from infested plantations, appropriate spacing between plants and thinning may reduce the risk of infection.
There is no evidence that eradication of the pathogen in a restricted area can be achieved. [...]
Nursery inspections to ensure plantations or landscape plantings are not made with infected stock.
Growing plants for planting in sites characterised by climatic conditions unsuitable or non-conducive for dissemination and infection.
Treatment with fungicides at the nursery stage. [...]
Conclusion on pest categorisation ▹ The criteria assessed by the Panel for consideration as potential PZ quarantine pest are met. [...]
The criterion on plants for planting as main pathway for spread is not met, as plants for planting are only one of the means of spread of the pathogen. [...]
Aspects of assessment to focus on/scenarios to address in future if appropriate ▹ Intraspecific variation and distribution of the different biotypes, with regard to the potential introduction of the North American and/or Asian race and the movement of biotypes of the European race within the EU. [...]


EFSA Journal, Vol. 15, No. 11. (November 2017), e05030, https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2017.5030 
Key: INRMM:14474234

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