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Summary Spatial distribution of Heterobasidion genets over a period of ca 50 years in two successive generations of Norway spruce (Picea abies) was unravelled. The genets were first identified in 1993 in a naturally regenerated 43-year-old spruce stand that had been thinned the previous winter. Heterobasidion parviporum was found in 17.5% of the old stumps of the previous spruce generation. Nine genets were identified on the study plot; seven of them were present in old stumps of the previous tree generation and two only in the new spruce generation. Eighteen spruce trees of the new generation were infected, 15 of them by vegetative growth of genets originating from the old stumps. The study plot was investigated again in 2005. No new genets had been established after thinning, and three old genets had died out. The remaining genets had infected five new trees, most likely from the thinning stumps of diseased trees. At the age of 56 years, 16.1% of the residual spruces were infected by Heterobasidion. The results of this study suggest that if spore infection to stumps of spruce can be prevented, the decay frequency caused by H. parviporum will not necessarily increase in successive generations.