The Oak Wilt Enigma: Perspectives from the Texas Epidemic
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Ceratocystis fagacearum (Bretz) Hunt, the oak wilt pathogen, is currently causing massivel osses of semievergreen live oaks (Quercus fusiformis Small and Q. virginiana Mill.) in central Texas. Given the relatively limited oak mortality caused by C. fagacearum in the deciduous forests of the North Central, Midwestern, and Mid-Atlantic United States, this Texas epidemic was not anticipated. The intensity of oak wilt in Texas is attributed to a number of factors related to host characteristics and the ability of the pathogen to adapt to limiting environmental conditions. Oak wilt management in semievergreen oaks requires considerable revision of the control techniques previously designed for deciduous oaks. The Texas oak wilt epidemic provides a new perspective from which to evaluate questions concerning oak wilt, including the origins of the pathogen as well as the potential for future losses in unaffected oak forests.
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