Pine Wilt Disease in Portugal
In Europe, species of the nematode genus Bursaphelenchus have been known and studied for a long time (Fuchs 1937; Rühm 1956). Earlier, except from a purely biological or ecological point of view, no particular interest was paid to this group of mycophagous nematodes. In 1979, however, a study conducted in southwestern France showed that the nematode Bursaphelenchus lignicolous was associated with declining pines (Baujard et al. 1979). This report caused alarm in Europe, since B. lignicolous is a synonym of B. xylophilus; the nematode in question was later identified as B. mucronatus (de Guiran and Boulbria 1986), which had been described as a new species that year. In 1984, a shipment of wood from North America to Finland was found to carry the pine wood nematode (PWN), B. xylophilus (Rautapaa 1986). This important interception prompted European authorities to develop more rigorous inspections at sea ports, and in particular of wood products coming from North America. However, no equivalent emphasis was placed on such products coming from East Asia. Between 1996 and 1999, an EU-funded project (RISKBURS) resulted in an updated survey of the Bursaphelenchus species in Europe. For an updated situation on the species distribution in the EU, see Braasch (2001). In 1999, the PWN, the causal agent of pine wilt disease, was first detected in the European Union (EU), in Portugal (Mota et al. 1999; Mota 2004), and this immediately prompted several national and EU governments to assess the extent of the nematode’s distribution, and to restrict B. xylophilus and its insect vector (Monochamus galloprovincialis) to an area with a 30-km radius in the Setúbal Peninsula, 20 km south of Lisbon (Rodrigues 2008).
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