Connecting Tree Failure with Wood Decay Fungal Assay

Connecting Tree Failure with Wood Decay Fungal Assay, Dr. Igor Lacan

This project will further our efforts to understand tree failure, and – ultimately – develop more direct predictive guidelines on tree risk. Specifically, the goal of the project is to link the information on tree failure contained in the California Tree Failure Report Program with the presence (or absence) of fungal colonizers in the failed wood (as determined by the Garbelotto assay). We are especially interested in understanding whether wood decay fungi are active in trunk and branch breaks that have occurred in apparently sound wood (as in summer limb drop, for example). Ultimately, we aim to produce correlations between fungal colonizers and failure that are robust enough to have some predictive value, i.e., we aim to enable arborists to test the wood of a standing but suspected-decayed tree for fungal presence (by taking a small wood sample and sending it to the lab) and then use the lab results together with our correlations (developed through this project) to better predict the risk of tree failure and guide tree preservation (or removal).

2017 Update: 

Over 80 samples have been submitted, representing a wide geographic area.  Some are failed trees, others are not.  62 samples have been processed, with 55 having fungal DNA (up to 10 different fungi in one case).  Costs for sending out sample kits were a bit more than estimated, but costs have been cut elsewhere.  Dr. Lacan is sending reminders, hoping for over 100 samples by study end. He is pleased and excited about the Garboletto collaboration and developing results.

A NO COST EXTENSION HAS BEEN GRANTED – Western Arborist article, Peer-reviewed article, and Igor’s web-site posting will all be set back 3 months, but will all be completed in 2017. Dr. Lacan will speak at the WCISA meeting in 2017.