A report done in late September of this year in California shows that native plants are under threat! A killer mold has been spreading and the native plants have no protection to the mold. The mold is called Phytophthora, or better known as the “plant destroyer.” The disease is said to have spread from other area close to California, however when it arrived it severely impacted the native plants because they have not evolved with the pathogen and are defenseless. However, actions are being put into place in order to fight the “plant destroyer.” An organization called Grassroots Ecology is fighting the pathogen at the nursery they run. In order to enter the nursery you must spray your shoes with alcohol, so if any pathogen is present it is killed before entering. Also plants have been taken off of the ground in order to stop from “splash contamination.” Deanna Giuliano, who is an ecologist at Grassroots Ecology, says she has noticed a difference ever since these actions have been put into place. The plants in the nursery will be released but will be tested before doing so. They have to be tested because if the native plants that are planted contain the pathogen, they could increase the likelihood of this mold spreading!
Some background information on Phytophthora:
- Usually infects dicots
- The parasites are very host specific
- It is a water mold
- Is the reason for large amounts of crop loss
- Grows rapidly during warm weather, which explains why it grows rapidly in California
Here is an image of what the infection looks like!