Forest Research is to develop guidance on managing and drawing up controlling strategies for the bleeding canker tree blight.
"This disease has rapidly become widespread throughout Britain over the past five years," said a representative for the research arm of the Forestry Commission.
Bleeding canker of horse chestnut was caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae pv aesculi (Psa), but until recently it had only been reported in India in 1980, he said.
"It has now proved to be highly mobile and exceptionally virulent to European horse chestnut, Aesculus hippocastanum."
Researchers were looking to provide an accurate diagnosis of the pathogen and underpin management strategies to combat the disease.
"A technique called real-time polymerase chain reaction has been developed and is being used to detect the levels of Psa on infected trees and their surroundings."
Previously little was known about what natural resistance horse chestnut populations may have had to Psa.
"But evidence indicates that even in heavily affected locations some trees remain healthy and symptom-free.
"Disease-free horse chestnuts have been propagated and will be tested for disease resistance in inoculation trials and compared against other disease-prone individuals.
"This research will ultimately guide management and mitigation strategies. Molecular techniques developed will also be applicable to the study of other important tree diseases."