Dutch contractor begins heat treatment against bleeding canker

A heat treatment against horse chestnut bleeding canker is now being deployed commercially on infected trees in the Netherlands.

Image: Wageningen UR
Image: Wageningen UR

The technique has been developed by scientists at Wageningen UR, which has now concluded a licensing contract for the Netherlands with tree care company Prop Boomtechniek. "There are also licensing opportunities available for foreign companies interested in performing the heat treatment method for diseased horse chestnuts in their own country," Wageningen said is a statement.

The research body will continue to manage a programme to monitor treated trees and analyse the results over the coming years. "The goal is to free the tree trunks from the pathogenic bacteria as much as possible so that the tree has the chance to overcome the damage and recover," it said, adding: "It is currently not known how long the effects of the treatment will last as the bacterium is still present in the environment, for example in or on non-treated parts of the tree."

Horse chestnut bleeding canker is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi, which attacks bark cells responsible for the transport of nutrition, disrupting flow of sap which then "bleeds" externally.

Trials of the heat treatment have been performed throughout the Netherlands since 2013. These use a heat mantle around the trunk to maintain a high temperature for several days, which appears sufficient to destroy the bacteria.

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