Social Media Used To Facilitate Research Into UK Ash Dieback

Diamond shaped lesions characteristic of Ash Dieback Disease, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea. Image courtesy of The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright.
Diamond shaped lesions characteristic of Ash Dieback Disease, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea. Image courtesy of The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright.

This Friday scientists from The Sainsbury Laboratory in the John Innes Centre in Norwich will publish the first RNA sequence data on the ash dieback fungus Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (asexual anamorphic stage Chalara fraxinea). The data will be released via the OpenAshDieback website to a system called GitHub designed for ‘social coding’ of software so that the information can be shared with scientists and experts all over the world. Dr Dan MacLean of The Sainsbury Laboratory said:  “Bringing together knowledge and data through technically-orientated social media is one of the most vital steps in beginning to understand this outbreak”

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Research Teams and Scientists Working to Stem Ash Dieback Fungus

Diamond shaped lesions characteristic of Ash Dieback Disease, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea. Image courtesy of The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright.

Researchers are working towards developing a cost effective solution to controlling  Ash Dieback fungal disease, a major threat to 80 million ash trees in the UK. As part of the plan to tackle Ash Dieback and other invasive pests and diseases, the government has formulated a team of ten internationally recognised experts in plant health, forestry and wider related disciplines as part of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Taskforce. The taskforce includes three entomologists, Professor Charles Godfray from Oxford University, Professor Simon Leather from Harper Adams University College and Professor John Mumford from Imperial College as well as a number of social and environmental scientists.

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