Heat treatment against chestnut canker shows promise

Researchers at Wageningen UR in the Netherlands have developed a heat treatment which they say is effective against chestnut bleeding canker.

Image: Wageningen UR
Image: Wageningen UR

They discovered that the bacterium responsible (Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi) is sensitive to high temperatures, initially by putting whole young trees in a glasshouse heated to 39ºC, which was sufficient to kill the bacteria but not the ttees.

It then field tested a "heat blanket" to apply a steady temperature over a period of days around trucks of infected mature trees in various parts of the Netherlands.

A tree care firm, Prop Tree Technology, has now been licensed to apply the treatment commercially, having developed the technique further. Other licensees and sub-licensees are also expected to adopt the treatment.

"Over the coming years, the development of all treated trees will be followed in a monitoring programme," the university and research establishment said.

But it cautioned: "Right now it is still not known how long the treatment lasts. The bacterium is, after all, still present in the environment, for example in or on the non-treated parts of the tree. The monitoring programme will seek to answer this."

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