Emerging Pest Alert

First report of Phytophthora kernoviae on wild Vaccinium

Scientific Name: Phytophthora kernoviae

Describer: Brasier et al.

Common Name: nan

Title: First report of Phytophthora kernoviae on wild Vaccinium


Significance: In 2006, Vaccinium myrtillus was identified as a host that is susceptible to the pathogen Phytophthora kernoviae, but this was only demonstrated within the laboratory setting. Now DEFRA (the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) has confirmed natural infection of this host in Cornwall, UK. Containment and eradication measures are being discussed. 

In 2003, DEFRA reported the first find of this fungus-like pathogen on rhododendrons (mainly Rhododendron ponticum) and beech (Fagus sylvatica) in Cornwall, UK. Since then it has also been reported in Wales and New Zealand (http://www.pestalert.org/viewNewsAlert.cfm?naid=16) and most recently in Scotland on two Rhododendron plants in a private garden (BBC News, 2008).

Issues of Concern: Phytophthora kernoviae is considered to be a more destructive pathogen to rhododendron than Phytophthora ramorum. If introduced, this pathogen could attack many common trees and shrubs in the NAPPO region, particularly in the United States and Canada.

Hosts: DEFRA has published a summary of the natural and laboratory infected hosts of P. kernoviae, viewable at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/kernovii/kernhost.pdf


BBC News. 2008. First case of deadly plant fungus. January 10, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7181797.stm

DEFRA. 2008. Phytophthora kernoviae. Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. United Kingdom. Available at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/pkernovii.htm. Includes information for the new find on Vaccinium as well as background information for this pathogen. 

DEFRA. 2007. Hosts for Phytophthora kernoviae-natural and laboratory finds. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. United Kingdom. Available at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/planth/kernovii/kernhost.pdf

NAPPO-PAS. 2006. Phytophthora kernoviae found for the first time in New Zealand. North American Plant Protection Organization, Phytosanitary Alert System. Available at: http://www.pestalert.org/viewNewsAlert.cfm?naid=16. Includes links to other web pages with information about this pathogen.