New detections of chestnut blight in Great Britain during 2019-2020 reveal high Cryphonectria parasitica diversity and limited spread of the disease.
Cryphonectria parasitica was detected for the first time in the United Kingdom in 2011. A 2017-2018 survey detected the disease at different sites in Berkshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset and London, while the present study comprises the results of the 2019-2020 survey with new findings and additional sites in the United Kingdom (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire, Devon, London, West Sussex) and in Jersey, reflecting the progressive detection of more infected trees. A total of 189 samples were collected from 52 sites, and 123 samples tested positive both by quantitative real-time PCR and/or isolation from 43 sites. A total of 115 isolates were tested for mating type, vegetative compatibility group (VCG) and Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 (CHV-1). Twelve VCGs were identified, with four of them being first records in United Kingdom. The highest diversity of VCGs was detected in Devon followed by West Sussex while London and Derbyshire presented the lowest. Both mating types were detected (41% MAT-1 and 59% MAT-2), and no heterokaryons were detected. Perithecia of C. parasitica were not observed at any site during this survey. CHV-1 was detected in three isolates in very low concentration from three different locations in London and was always the unmutated subtype I haplotype E-5. A greater diversity of VCGs at outbreak sites compared with previous surveys, combined with their scattered distribution and the slow spread of the pathogen, supports the hypothesis that this disease has been introduced through imports over time from Europe.