Gemmamyces bud blight of Picea pungens: a sudden disease outbreak in Central Europe.
Due to its high tolerance to acid rain, the North American Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) has been among the most frequent substitute tree species used in reforestation programmes in spruce mountain forests in the Ore and Sudeten Mountains in the Czech Republic after destruction by sulphur dioxide pollution in the second half of the last century. This species was planted on more than 8800 ha of destroyed mountain forest stands in the Ore Mountains alone. New plantations prospered until a massive outbreak of the gemmamyces bud blight, first identified in 2009. The causal agent, Gemmamyces piceae, induced massive bud blight in infected trees - bud loss progressively increased to 70-80% or more, and because the trees were not able to replace the natural loss of older needles, they quickly withered and died. Many plantations disrupted by the pathogen had to be cut down. Although several resistant genotypes have been identified, the cultivation of this species in forest stands has no future in this area. Because this disease was also identified in several ornamental plantations in the area, the bud blight epidemic haunts public green space administrators and nursery and Christmas tree plantation owners. Other pathogens and pests, such as Lophodermium piceae, Sirococcus conigenus and Elatobium abietinum, have also been identified as involved in the damage to P. pungens.