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Tommy Hutchinson

Comparing visual inspection of trees and molecular analysis of internal wood tissues for the diagnosis of wood decay fungi

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Some interesting information on how successful fungal /decay detection by VTA is:



Abstract. The extent to which the presence of wood decay fungi in standing trees is underestimated when diagnosis is based on the visual inspection of trees wa



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Interesting...thanks for sharing.  The main takehome point for me is that between 15 - 58% of trees tested by PCR had decay fungi present (a smaller number than I would have thought), but if it is latent in the sapwood or effectively compartmentalised it doesn't pose an immediate issue for the tree.  Fruiting bodies are an indication that a particular decay fungi is present and active in the tree and probably has been for a while, and obvs should be seriously appraised, but their presence/absence is only one strand of VTA, which looks at the tree, and its' responses to a number of different factors, as a whole.

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What's interesting is that fungi are allways present, they never will not be. They're just waiting for the environment to change so they can switch from latent to active. I think trees are more complex than we give them credit for. Just look into the numbers of life that live in their leaves (phyllosphere), it's insane! 


Ultimately arborsits would like to know the full extent of the structural damage caused by fungi. We're getting closer and an arborists approach must be holistic. However, not everyone has all the detection equipment to use to help assist a more holistic and accurate decision, this can, and still does mean premature deaths of trees. 



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The Pyhllosphere! :-)


'The surface area of the phyllosphere is approximately twice as great as the land surface area, and this environment provides a habitat for numerous microorganisms that colonize leaf surfaces (where they mostly form aggregates) and the spaces inside leaves.'



Edited by Tommy Hutchinson

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Look how cool this is: 


Figure 1.
Why spatial scales matter. To illustrate the situation that most microbes find themselves on leaf surfaces, assume a human subject on the island of Trinidad, which has similar proportions to a human as a bean leaf to a bacterium. Assuming that the human cannot move, has no vision, nor sense of hearing and is left only with its sense of touch and sense of smell, the immediate surrounding becomes vitally important. In other words, that human will not be able to perceive any other part of the island. This is comparable to how individual single‐celled microbes perceive a leaf. Without sufficient amounts of water, free movement of bacteria is restricted and they only perceive signals, such as sugars, amino acids or volatiles, diffusing to their occupied site. Thereby, the microhabitat conditions drive the experience and behaviour of individual bacteria.


nph15054-fig-0001-m (1).jpg

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