Please refer to the 2015 survey for updated info.
As part of the Powdery Mildew citizen science scheme, I am asking YOU to keep an eye open for powdery mildews.
Powdery mildews commonly occur on garden plants, are unsightly, and can cause serious damage. To help understand how widespread powdery mildews are, both in terms of geography and hosts, the Royal Horticultural Society and University of Reading are working together to identify and map as many powdery mildews as possible over the next two growing seasons. You can help by supplying us with infected plant samples and in exchange we will do our best to tell you what mildew is infecting your plant.
With over 900 named species, occurring on more than 10,000 different plant hosts, even experts struggle to ID them effectively. I am able to collect and analyse many powdery mildew samples around the University campus and further afield in Reading. However, it is necessary to gain more samples, from more UK locations, on more host plants, in order to better understand the problem in UK gardens.
Using DNA sequences I will be able to identify and map which powdery mildews occur where and when they are most prevalent and ultimately develop short DNA sequences allowing for easy ID of similar samples in future.
Quick, accurate and efficient identification of these garden, fungal foes will help to track the presence of British based species on their host plants, perhaps discovering new species invasive to this island. It will also allow us to track which have recently expanded their host ranges to infect new plant species.
UK gardeners and plant enthusiasts can help to build the global knowledge of Fungi and plant diseases. To help this important research please collect and send your infected plant material to me (please try to follow the steps below)!
I will record the appearance of your fungi, and then pulverise a small part of it to analyse its DNA. Once identified your sample will be added to a national powdery mildew database and you will be sent a link to the relevant record.
How to…pick and send a powdery mildew sample:
- Locate powdery mildew on plant host.
- Prune off several whole leaves (fig. 2)
- Put the fresh leaves in a slightly inflated sealed bag (fig. 3).
- Send to:
School of Biological Sciences
University of Reading
RG6 6AS United Kingdom
…along with the postcode/grid reference of where the sample was found, your email address and the host plants name. If you can add a GPS location and/or photograph of the plant in growth this would be most helpful.
5. We will email you when results are available. This may take several weeks.
This information will help to form a more complete picture of powdery mildew presence in the UK and to develop cutting-edge, molecular identification techniques.
Many thanks to all!
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Hello! This is a very timely find as I’ve blogged about powdery mildew on my Verbena bonariensis today. Expect a sample bag from me shortly 🙂
It’s been really interesting to read about your project, which raises loads of questions in my mind. Does each mildew species have a certain geographical range? Are they specific to certain host(s) – their immense diversity suggests this might be so? Are there new species to discover out there? It’ll be interesting to see if your research answers these questions – unless you have the answer(s) already 🙂
Aha! Veg plotting hey?! Looks like an interesting and informative blog.
Thanks for the sample.
I will try to answer your questions and maybe there’ll be a more detailed blog coming in future 😉
The PM species do have specific geo origins and host specificity. However with increased trade in plants and their virulence genes PMs are constantly expanding their geographical and host ranges.
Some species are very host specific, such as the formae speciales on cereals infecting just a single host species, others infect single genera or tribes of plants, while others are polyphagous (infecting a wide range of host plants).
There are ca. 10x more rust species described than PMs, yet there are few ‘New Disease Reports’ of the rusts… In comparison these NDRs are common for PMs. Therefore there are certainly new species to discover, as well as current PM species to be found on new hosts, and in new regions.
There is much more to say about each of your questions… sorry. I will keep an eye on your blog, and thanks for the extra publicity, Oli
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