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Moving Spore-adically: The Spread of Sudden Oak Death in California Forests
This article is from Issue Invasive Species - Vol. 8 No. 1.
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Sudden oak death is a new disease of trees and plants in the United States and Europe. Although scientists are not certain, they believe the fungus-like organism that causes sudden oak death was brought into the United States from another country. In this study, the scientists wanted to learn how the organism that causes sudden oak death is spread from tree to tree within a forest.
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When scientists prepare to study something, they do as much research about the topic as possible before designing their study. That way, they will be more successful at asking the right questions and finding the clearest answers. In this study, the scientists studied the organism that causes sudden oak death. They found that the organism is like a fungus. Therefore, they learned everything they could about how fungi spread from place to place. By understanding how fungi spread from place to place, they were able to look for a similar process in the organism that causes sudden oak death.
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When homeowners create gardens or do landscaping around their homes, they often use plants that are not native to the area in which they live. These nonnative plants are often transported from country to country, and across the country from nursery to nursery. When a plant is infected with a disease, it is not just the plant that is transported from nursery to nursery. Sometimes, these plants and diseases escape into the natural environment, where they become disruptive to the natural ecosystem. You can see that although we usually think of plants as not being mobile, their reproduction and transport by humans allows them to spread from place to place. If a plant has a disease, the disease can spread as well.
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