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Meeting of IUFRO WP 7. 02. 02 ‘Foliage, shoot and stem diseases of forest trees’ in Sopron, Hungary, May 2007.
Setting and history: The town of Sopron is located in Western Hungary and is also known as an important wine-growing region.
Although Sopron has been partially destroyed by a great fire in 1676, and during the Second World War, the old part of the town is still intact and maintained its charm with beautiful buildings of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque architecture and cobbled stone streets. Western Hungary was once a province of the Roman Empire, and parts of the old Roman city walls can still be seen in the old town of Sopron (then named Scarbantia). During the Ottoman occupation of Hungary, the town was ravaged but never occupied.
Many people fled to Sopron from occupied areas and the importance of this town grew. Following the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, four western Hungarian provinces were awarded to Austria, however, after local unrest, 65% of the population of Sopron and the surrounding villages voted for Hungary. Since then, Sopron is also known as ‘the most loyal town’.
Meeting and field trips The meeting was held at a hotel in the town centre of Sopron and was hosted by the University of West Hungary, Faculty of Forestry, Institute of Forest and Wood Protection. The conference was attended by about 40 participants from over 15 countries. The programme was officially started with introductory speeches from the coordinator Gaston Laflamme and the local organizer Ilona SzabÃ³. The programme was divided into sections: 1) Foliage diseases (conifers and hardwoods), 2) Shoot blights and nursery diseases; 3) Scleroderris canker; 4) Canker diseases and 5) Other diseases to cover the wide range of fungal diseases in forest and nursery situations. A number of important fungal pathogens received considerable attention with presentations and posters: Dothistroma spp. , which causes Red Band Needle Blight in many Pinus spp. worldwide; Sirococcus shoot blight caused by Sirococcus conigenus in Pinus spp. ; Diplodia pinea and D. scrobiculata which are causal agents of shoot blight on several conifer species; and Gremmeniella abietina, which also causes shoot blight and dieback on Pinus spp.
Included in the programme were two days of field trips. The first one took us to the Lake Balaton region. On the way we visited two sites of Pinus nigra decline. Many trees were infected with either Dothistroma (red band) needle blight and/or Diploidia spp. The second field trip took us to some sites in the vic ini ty of Sopron. At Ãgal fa, a biological control programme had been successful ly employed to control Chestnut blight, caused by Cryphonectria parasitica, on Castanea sativa. Stem lesions of affected trees were artificially inoculated with a local hypovirulent strain of the pathogen.
Inoculation of newly occurring cankers was conducted on a yearly basis and after eight years, 90% of the diseased trees had recovered. At the second stop in the Sopron hills, the pathogen Cryphonectr ia parasitica could be observed fruiting on stems of Quercus petraea. We then visited a Christmas tree plantation where obvious signs of Swiss needle cast, caused by the ascomycete fungus Phaeocryptopus gäumannii, as well as Rhabdocline needle cast could be seen. Although ascospores of P. gäumannii generally infect current-season’s needles, infections may remain symptomless for a few years. Rhabdocline needle cast is caused by Rhabdocline weirii. Infection leads to discolouration and death of the needles, which are eventually cast from affected trees.
Sopron provided a beautiful setting for this meeting and a number of evening events had been organised such as a welcome dinner, a guided walk through the town and wine tasting with typical Hungarian music. I would like to thank the BSPP, Forest Research and the University of Aberdeen for funding my trip that enabled me to attend this conference, where I presented a paper on the incidence of Anisogramma virgultorum in planted and site-natural birch stands in Scotland. This ascomycete fungus causes cankers on young, developing birch shoots thus contributing to shoot dieback. The meeting provided me with an opportunity to meet many tree pathologists from all over the world and the small size of the group has meant that the atmosphere was informal and friendly.
Heike de Silva, Forest Research, Roslin, Scotland