Migratory passerine birds in Britain carry Phytophthora ramorum inoculum on their feathers and “feet” at low frequency

Daria Dadam* (Corresponding Author), Eleni Siasou, Stephen Woodward, Jacquie A. Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this study, we investigated whether birds could be vectors facilitating long‐distance spread of Phytophthora ramorum in Britain. Migratory bird species associated with the main sporangium‐producing host plants and most likely to pick up P. ramorum spores were considered. Swabs were taken from the flank and “feet” of 1,014 birds over a 12‐month period (April 2011–March 2012) in the west of Britain and subsequently analyzed for the presence of P. ramorum using nested PCR. Ten positive samples from 10 birds were identified: three in Cornwall, one in Devon, three in Gloucestershire, two in north Wales and one in Merseyside. Phytophthora ramorum was detected on samples from four species of thrushes (Redwing Turdus iliacus, Fieldfare T. pilaris, Blackbird T. merula and Song Thrush T. philomelos) and one species of warbler (Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita). All birds that tested positive were sampled in late autumn and winter (October–February), when long‐distance movements (over 100 km) would have stopped. The low incidence of P. ramorum found using PCR suggests that the incidence of inoculum, whether viable or not, on birds was low. The apparently low incidence of inoculum on birds suggests migratory passerine birds can carry P. ramorum inoculum on their feathers and “feet,” albeit at low frequency. The dates of positive samples indicate that birds would not have been moving long distances at the time but further work is needed to estimate the extent of their contribution to the spread of P. ramorum in Britain.

Original languageEnglish
JournalForest Pathology
Early online date9 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Dec 2019

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Phytophthora ramorum
passerine
feather
feathers
United Kingdom
inoculum
bird
birds
incidence
Turdus merula
Turdus
Wales
song
migratory birds
sampling
host plant
spore
host plants
spores
autumn

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Migratory passerine birds in Britain carry Phytophthora ramorum inoculum on their feathers and “feet” at low frequency. / Dadam, Daria (Corresponding Author); Siasou, Eleni; Woodward, Stephen; Clark, Jacquie A. .

In: Forest Pathology, 09.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "In this study, we investigated whether birds could be vectors facilitating long‐distance spread of Phytophthora ramorum in Britain. Migratory bird species associated with the main sporangium‐producing host plants and most likely to pick up P. ramorum spores were considered. Swabs were taken from the flank and “feet” of 1,014 birds over a 12‐month period (April 2011–March 2012) in the west of Britain and subsequently analyzed for the presence of P. ramorum using nested PCR. Ten positive samples from 10 birds were identified: three in Cornwall, one in Devon, three in Gloucestershire, two in north Wales and one in Merseyside. Phytophthora ramorum was detected on samples from four species of thrushes (Redwing Turdus iliacus, Fieldfare T. pilaris, Blackbird T. merula and Song Thrush T. philomelos) and one species of warbler (Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita). All birds that tested positive were sampled in late autumn and winter (October–February), when long‐distance movements (over 100 km) would have stopped. The low incidence of P. ramorum found using PCR suggests that the incidence of inoculum, whether viable or not, on birds was low. The apparently low incidence of inoculum on birds suggests migratory passerine birds can carry P. ramorum inoculum on their feathers and “feet,” albeit at low frequency. The dates of positive samples indicate that birds would not have been moving long distances at the time but further work is needed to estimate the extent of their contribution to the spread of P. ramorum in Britain.",
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