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Spatio-temporal analysis of an invasive plant pathogen (Phytophthora ramorum) in England and Wales

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Phytophthora ramorum is a damaging invasive plant pathogen and was first discovered in the UK in 2002. Spatial point analyses were applied to the occurrence of this disease in England and Wales during the period of 2003–2006 in order to assess its spatio-temporal spread. Out of the 4301 garden centres and nurseries (GCN) surveyed, there were 164, 105, 123 and 41 sites with P. ramorum in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively. Spatial analysis of the observed point patterns of GCN outbreaks suggested that these sites were significantly clumped within a radius of ca 60 km in 2003, but not in later years. Further analyses were conducted to determine the relationship of GCN outbreak sites over two consecutive years and thus to infer possible disease spread over time. This analysis suggested that disease spread among GCN sites was most likely to have occurred within a distance of 60 km for 2003–2004, but not for the later years. There were 35, 63, 81 and 58 sites with P. ramorum in the semi-natural environment (SNE). Analyses were carried out to assess whether infected GCN sites could act as an inoculum source of infected SNE plants or vice versa. In all years, there was a significant spatial closeness among GCN and SNE outbreak sites within a distance of 1 km. But a significant relationship over a longer distance (within 60 km) was only observed between cases in 2003 and 2004. These analyses suggest that statutory actions taken so far appear to have reduced the extent of long-distance spread of P. ramorum among garden centres and nurseries, but not the disease spread at a shorter distance between GCN and SNE sites.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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