An ambrosia beetle, commonly known as Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer (PSHB) Euwallacea fornicatus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), is considered to be a pest, due to its ability to damage trees by acting as a vector for a pathogenic fungi. Fusarium euwallaceae, the fungal symbiont of the PSHB, is inoculated into the tree by the beetle. Eventually, the fungal symbiont prevents the transport of water and nutrients by invading the xylem, that leads to Fusarium dieback and the eventual death of the host tree. This pest-pathogen complex has emerged as an invasive pest in Israel and the United States of America (California), causing severe damage and significant economic losses to agricultural, ornamental and urban trees, especially to their avocado industries.

This pest-pathogen complex was detected in South Africa damaging Platanus x acerifolia (London Plane) trees in the National Botanical Gardens, KwaZulu-Natal. Recently, it was detected on a backyard tree and in a commercial avocado orchard. Control management strategies for this pest complex are limited due to inefficient trapping mechanisms, lack of biocontrol measures and inefficient fungicides. The use of resistant/tolerant trees could serve as a potential control strategy. Current research within the Avocado Research Programme (ARP) is therefore aimed at identifying Fusarium spp. isolates sampled from avocado trees to determine the extent of the threat to industry, after which the taxonomy of these isolates will be defined.  We are also in the process of determining the threat on various, commonly growth avocado cultivars through the use of multiple pathogenicity trials.


*Read more about Ambrosia beetles and Fusarium dieback on our Fact sheet here.


ARP Team Members

Casey Gill: PacBio sequencing of the fungal mutualists associated with Xylosandrus crassiusculus.




New Publications

Wingfield BD, Berger DK, Coetzee MPA, Duong TA, Martin A, Pham NQ, Van den Berg N, Wilken PM, Arun-Chinnappa KS, Barnes I, Buthelezi S, Dahanayaka BA, Durán A, Engelbrecht J, Feurtey A, Fourie A, Fourie G, Hartley J, Kabwe ENK, Maphosa M, Narh Mensah DL, Nsibo DL, Potgieter L, Poudel B, Stukenbrock EH, Thomas C, Vaghefi N, Welgemoed T, Wingfield MJ. (2022) IMA genome‑F17. 13:19. 10.1186/s43008-022-00104-3
Wienk R, Mostert‑O’Neill M, Abeysekara N, Manosalva P, Freeman B, van den Berg N. (2022) Genetic diversity, population structure and clonal verification in South African avocado cultivars using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. Tree Genetics and Genomes 18(41) 10.1007/s11295-022-01573-8 PDF
Joubert M, van den Berg N, Theron J, Swart V. (2022) Transcriptomics Advancement in the Complex Response of Plants to Viroid Infection. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 23(7677) 10.3390/ijms23147677 PDF
Backer R, Engelbrecht J, van den Berg N. (2022) Differing Responses to Phytophthora cinnamomi Infection in Susceptible and Partially Resistant Persea americana (Mill.) Rootstocks: A Case for the Role of Receptor-Like Kinases and Apoplastic Proteases. Frontiers in Plant Science 13 10.3389/fpls.2022.928176 PDF
Hartley J, Engelbrecht J, Van den Berg N. (2022) Detection and prevalence of Rosellinia necatrix in South African avocado orchards. European Journal of Plant Pathology 10.1007/s10658-022-02532-8