The origin of Ceratocystis fagacearum, the oak wilt fungus.
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The oak wilt pathogen, Ceratocystis fagacearum, may be another example of a damaging, exotic species in forest ecosystems in the United States. Though C. fagacearum has received much research attention, the origin of the fungus is unknown. The pathogen may have been endemic at a low incidence until increased disturbances, changes in land use, and forest management created conditions favorable for disease epidemics. The host genus Quercus contains some relatively resistant species native to the United States, further supporting the hypothesis that the pathogen is native in origin. However, there are also many common, highly susceptible Quercus species--a characteristic typical of introduced pathogens. Most convincingly, studies have shown that the known populations of C. fagacearum have experienced a severe genetic bottleneck that can only be explained by a single introduction. The weight of evidence indicates that C. fagacearum is an introduced pathogen, with possible origins in Central or South America, or Mexico.