Exploring the Northern woods 2016-04-26
During his visit to Finland Prof. Mike Wingfield had with the opportunity to spend time in northern Finland with forest pathology colleagues, Jarkko Hantula and Michael Muller (two of the leaders of the group that developed the Montesclaros Declaration calling for substantial controls in the global movement of plant products). During a previous visit to Finland, Mike and Jarkko surveyed Pinus sylvestris for the tree pathogen Sphaeropsis sapinea and interestingly, they were not able to find the fungus. This situation appears now to have changed with the fungus appearing as a new invasive. Consequently, Mike and Michael Muller made a new collection of samples in order to evaluate the possible presence of the fungus. This work will clearly result in interesting research results. A few distractions included eating reindeer moss (Cladonia stellaris) eaten by the Woods Cree (Nihithawak) people to treat intestinal parasites. The moss is the main winter food of caribou and reindeer but is slow growing and like most other lichens, C. stellaris grows less than 0.5cm per year - even under ideal conditions. A second, more dramatic, distraction was jumping into hole cut in a frozen lake after sauna – a common practice for Finnish people but NOT South Africans!