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University of Algarve professor leads investigation into cork oak decline

UNIVERSITY OF ALGARVE PROFESSOR LEADS INVESTIGATION INTO CORK OAK DECLINEAna Cristina Coelho, professor and researcher at the University of Algarve, led an investigation into the decline of the cork oak that was recently published in the prestigious magazine PLOS ONE.

“The decline of the cork oak is a reality in the Iberian Peninsula and the Algarve producers are among the most affected by this disease”, explains UAlg in a statement.

According to the Algarve academy, “the study of this phenomenon has focused on several factors that may contribute to the problem, one of the most important being the interaction of the cork oak with the Oomycete microorganism Phytophthora cinnamomi, which is found in the soil and invades the roots of the trees causing them to rot.”

In a long-term experimental test, the set of proteins (proteome) present in the leaves of uninoculated cork oaks and inoculated in the roots with P. cinnamomi was identified and quantified The referenced proteins are potential diagnostic indicators of infection of the tree by the oomycete, as they are detectable in an exposed tissue (leaves), easier to sample, in adult trees, than the roots, which are the organ most affected by the action of the microorganism.

The published data contribute to the biological interpretation of the cork oak’s defense response to the pathogen and lay the groundwork for a better characterization of the cork oak decline, which is essential for the sustainability of the cork and holm oak ecosystems.

The University of Algarve thus contributes to the regional development strategy, which has an important pillar in the agroforestry sector.

The work was attended by researchers from CEOT, the Center for Marine Sciences (CCMAR), the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology (CNC) and the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Coimbra (IIIUC).

For Professor Ana Cristina Coelho, “these conclusions are of paramount importance because they open perspectives for answering questions related to the vitality and maintenance of the cork oak / montados that are forest ecosystems of great biological and economic importance”.

Ana Cristina Coelho’s full article in English can be seen here .

Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/