Pine wilt disease is currently among the most devastating pine tree plagues on earth. It is caused by the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus in a perfect and well synchronized mutualistic relationship with beetles of the genus Monochamus. The disease has a fast and efficient mode of spread, which makes most of the efforts to control it practically insufficient. We investigate how early eradication of infected pine trees, i.e. eradication of trees which just ceased oleoresin exudation, may affect disease spread. In contrast to the sole eradication of killed trees, our results show that under an appropriate combination of eradication strategies: (1) there is a significant increase in the minimum pine density below which the disease fails to invade; (2) the region where reproductive Allee effects may take place are significantly enlarged. We implement optimal strategies for eradication through stochastic search optimization techniques, and conclude that disease extinction can be reached faster with an appropriate combination of eradication measures, minimizing the damage on healthy pine trees and operational costs.
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Gordillo, L.F., Kim, Y. A simulation of the effects of early eradication of nematode infected trees on spread of pine wilt disease. Eur J Plant Pathol 132, 101–109 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10658-011-9852-9