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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Conditions of emergence of the Sooty Bark Disease and aerobiology of Cryptostroma corticale in Europe

Muller, Elodie; Dvorak, Milon; Marcais, Benoit; Caeiro, Elsa; Clot, Bernard; Desprez-Loustau, Marie-Laure; Gedda, Bjoern; Lunden, Karl; Migliorini, Duccio; Oliver, Gilles; Ramos, Ana Paula; Rigling, Daniel; Rybnicek, Ondrej; Santini, Alberto; Schneider, Salome; Stenlid, Jan; Tedeschini, Emma; Aguayo, Jaime; Gomez-Gallego, Mireia


The sooty bark disease (SBD) is an emerging disease affecting sycamore maple trees (Acer pseudoplatanus) in Europe. Cryptostroma corticale, the causal agent, putatively native to eastern North America, can be also pathogenic for humans causing pneumonitis. It was first detected in 1945 in Europe, with markedly increasing reports since 2000. Pathogen development appears to be linked to heat waves and drought episodes. Here, we analyse the conditions of the SBD emergence in Europe based on a three-decadal time -series data set. We also assess the suitability of aerobiological samples using a species-specific quantitative PCR assay to inform the epidemiology of C. corticale, through a regional study in France comparing two-year aerobiological and epidemiological data, and a continental study including 12 air samplers from six countries (Czechia, France, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland). We found that an accumulated water deficit in spring and summer lower than-132 mm correlates with SBD outbreaks. Our results suggest that C. corticale is an efficient airborne pathogen which can dis-perse its conidia as far as 310 km from the site of the closest disease outbreak. Aerobiology of C. corticale followed the SBD distribution in Europe. Pathogen detection was high in countries within the host native area and with longer disease presence, such as France, Switzerland and Czech Republic, and sporadic in Italy, where the pathogen was reported just once. The pathogen was absent in samples from Portugal and Sweden, where the disease has not been reported yet. We conclude that aerobiological surveillance can inform the spatial distribution of the SBD, and contribute to early detection in pathogen-free countries.


Acer pseudoplatanus; aerobiology; airborne fungal spores; climate change; drought-induced forest disease; heat wave; invasive pathogen; maple bark disease; quantitative species-specific PCR

Published in

2023, Volume: 84, pages: 319-347