Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:Plant Disease, Volume 100, Issue 11, p.2184 - 2193 (2016)
Cork oak (Quercus suber) forests are economically and culturally intertwined with the inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin and characterize its rural landscape. These forests cover over two million hectares in the western Mediterranean basin and sustain a rich biodiversity of endemisms as well as representing an important source of income derived from cork production. Currently cork oak forests are threatened by several factors including human-mediated disturbances such as poor or inappropriate management practices, adverse environmental conditions (irregular water regime with prolonged drought periods), and attacks of pathogens and pests. All these adverse factors can interact, causing a complex disease commonly known as “oak decline.” Despite the numerous investigations carried out so far, decline continues to be the main pathological problem of cork oak forests because of its complex etiology and the resulting difficulties in defining suitable control strategies. An overview of the literature indicates that several pathogenic fungi and oomycota can play a primary role in the etiology of this syndrome. Therefore, the aim of this review is to analyze the recent advances achieved regarding the bio-ecology of the endemic and emerging pathogens that threaten cork oak trees with particular emphasis on the species more directly involved in oak decline. Moreover, the effect of climate change on the host-pathogen interactions, a task fundamental for making useful decisions and managing cork oak forests properly, is considered.