Cryphonectria parasitica (blight of chestnut)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Seedborne Aspects
- Plant Trade
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Cryphonectria parasitica (Murrill) M.E. Barr
Preferred Common Name
- blight of chestnut
Other Scientific Names
- Diaporthe parasitica Murrill
- Endothia parasitica (Murrill) P.J. Anderson & H.W. Anderson
International Common Names
- English: blight: chestnut; blight: oak; canker of chestnut; canker: chestnut; canker: oak; chestnut blight; chestnut canker; swollen butt: scarlet oak
- Spanish: chancro de la corteza; chancro del castano
- French: chancre de l'écorce du chataignier; chancre du chataignier; maladie chancreuse du chataignier
Local Common Names
- Germany: Kastaniensterben; Krebs: Eiche; Krebs: Kastanie; Rindenkrebs: Kastanie
- ENDOPA (Cryphonectria parasitica)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Fungi
- Phylum: Ascomycota
- Subphylum: Pezizomycotina
- Class: Sordariomycetes
- Subclass: Sordariomycetidae
- Order: Diaporthales
- Family: Valsaceae
- Genus: Cryphonectria
- Species: Cryphonectria parasitica
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
The conidiomata are the first structures to form in the stroma and are surrounded by a loose growth of hyphae or prosenchyma. When the stroma first breaks through the bark periderm, stromatic cells become shorter and thicker, densely crowded together, and appear as a pseudoparenchymous tissue. This tissue layer covers the exposed surface of the stroma and the necks of the typically later-formed perithecia. Conidiomata locules are often large, convoluted, and 100 to 300 µm in diameter. Conidiophores are branched, bearing differentiated conidiogenous cells that are cylindrical, tapering at the apex, sometimes with a collarette. Conidia are hyaline, aseptate, oblong to cylindrical, 3 to 5 x 1-2 µm, and during moist periods are expelled in mucilaginous spore tendrils that are yellowish when young and coral red when old. The tendrils readily wash away during rains. Some stromata contain conidiomata and no ascomata; this is especially common for hypovirulent strains of C. parasitica, which form very small stromata on blight-susceptible chestnuts.
The ascoma is a subglobose perithecium, 300-400 µm in diameter, which often develops in the stroma below the conidiomata, but at times is formed well up in the stroma at the level with or above the conidiomata. The perithecia are white to brown, with black necks. Perithecia commonly have a valsoid arrangement, with the oblique and central long (600 or more µm) periphysate necks converging and erumpent through the stromatic disc. Some stromata have an upright arrangement of perithecia. Stromata may contain one to 60 perithecia (usually 15 to 30), which show on the surface of the stroma as a number of raised papillae or a number of black ostiolate necks. Asci (30-60 x 7-9 µm) are unitunicate, ellipsoid to subclavate with a refractive apical ring, evanescent at the base, then free at maturity, 8-spored. Ascospores (7-12 x 3-5.5 µm) are hyaline, two-celled with a median septum, ellipsoid or ovoid, with a gelatinous envelope.For further information see Shear et al. (1917); Heald (1926); Barr (1978); Sivanesan and Holliday (1981); Roane (1986); Micales and Stipes (1987); Hanlin (1990).
DistributionTop of page
See also CABI/EPPO (1998, No. 194).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 30 Jun 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Tunisia||Present, Few occurrences|
|-Uttar Pradesh||Present, Localized|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Present|
|Germany||Present, Few occurrences||First reported: 198*|
|Netherlands||Present, Transient under eradication|
|-Southern Russia||Present, Localized|
|Sweden||Absent, Confirmed absent by survey|
|United Kingdom||Present, Transient under eradication|
|United States||Present, Localized|
|Australia||Present, Few occurrences|
|-Victoria||Present, Few occurrences|
Habitat ListTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Outside the USA, it has been reported from Quercus in Slovakia (Juhasova, 1991) on Q. petraea in Switzerland (Bissegger and Heiniger, 1991), and on a range of trees including Ostrya carpinifolia, Quercus ilex, Q. pubescens and Alnus cordata in Italy (Turchetti et al., 1991) although disease symptoms were mild.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Alnus cordata (Italian alder)||Betulaceae||Wild host|
|Castanea dentata (American chestnut)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Castanea sativa (chestnut)||Fagaceae||Main|
|Malus domestica (apple)||Rosaceae||Wild host|
|Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)||Fagaceae||Unknown|
|Quercus frainetto (Hungarian oak)||Fagaceae||Other|
|Quercus ilex (holm oak)||Fagaceae||Unknown|
|Quercus petraea (durmast oak)||Fagaceae||Unknown|
|Quercus rubra (northern red oak)||Fagaceae||Unknown|
|Quercus stellata (Post oak)||Fagaceae||Unknown|
Growth StagesTop of page
SymptomsTop of page
The first evidence of infection on blight-susceptible chestnut trees may be a small, flat, orange-brown area on the smooth bark tissues of the main stem or branches. These small lesions may be associated with a small, shade-killed branch. The lesions develop into sunken cankers as buff-colored mycelial fans develop in the bark, at one or more bark depths in the phloem to the vascular cambium. The margin of the cankers may slight slightly and the bark may crack. Small, yellowish to orange stromata containing conidiomata break through the bark and become larger and more numerous as the canker grows. Distinctive yellow tendrils (cirrhi) of conidia extrude from the stroma in wet weather. In the later months of the first year, papillae and/or the black necks of the perithecia become apparent on the stromata. Stromata may reach densities of 50 or more per cm² and over 1000 per canker on American chestnuts. Cankers or stromata on European chestnuts may contain no, few, or many perithecia. Soon after, depending on the diameter of the stem, the canker expands around the circumference of the stem and the vascular cambium is girdled and killed on susceptible chestnuts. Wilting and death of the foliage above the branch or stem canker follows. On older and rougher bark with rhytidome, or on blight-resistant chestnuts or oaks, cankers may not be as obvious, and stromata may be infrequent. Blight-resistant trees infected with virulent strains may have superficial and swollen cankers with thick rhytidome, due to the wound periderm formation, or callused and swollen cankers, which develop after a small area of the vascular cambium has been killed. Intermediate cankers may be formed also with irregularly swollen and sunken areas within a canker. Killing of the vascular cambium and stem death can occur in normally blight-resistant Chinese chestnuts after severe spring frosts or at high altitude, but it is uncommon. Blight-susceptible chestnuts infected with hypovirulent strains may exhibit the same canker types exhibited by blight-resistant chestnuts and oaks infected with virulent strains. In the case of the former, only stromata with conidiomata may be formed by the hypovirulent strains. For further information, see Shear et al. (1917); Heald (1926); Sivanesan and Holliday (1981); Roane et al. (1986); Heineger and Rigling (1994); Guérin et al. (2000); Hogan and Griffin (2002).
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Leaves / wilting|
|Stems / canker on woody stem|
|Stems / dieback|
|Stems / gummosis or resinosis|
|Whole plant / plant dead; dieback|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The fungus colonizes bark tissues by the growth of mycelial fans that may be found in several layers of the bark; host cells are killed in advance of colonization. Resistant hosts, such as Chinese chestnut, infected with virlulent strains, and susceptible chestnut hosts, infected with hypovirulent (reduced virulence) strains, have fewer mycelial fans. Hypovirulent strains of C. parasitica may naturally be present in cankers (see Control) and are frequently infected with a dsRNA virus (hypovirus). Most chestnut cankers resulting from colonization by virulent strains are sunken, which kills the stem or branch and all foliage above the canker. Resistant hosts, infected with virulent strains, or susceptible chestnuts, infected with hypovirulent strains, may have non-killing, swollen, superficial cankers or callused and swollen cankers. Stromata containing conidiomata and/or perithecia are abundant on sunken cankers but often infrequent on swollen cankers. Sunken cankers on main stems can kill the entire tree above the ground, often within 1or 2 years, but stump sprouts commonly develop after stem death unless sunlight is too low for shoot growth or browse damage is high (Sivanesan and Holliday, 1981; Roane et al., 1986; Griffin et al., 1991).
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Soil or bark microbes can be natural antagonists.
Seedborne AspectsTop of page
C. parasitica is not well known as a seedborne pathogen. Around 14% of the nuts harvested from a planting of American chestnuts at Hamden, Connecticut, USA, in which chestnut blight was prevalent were infected with C. parasitica. Signs of infection appeared after storage at 4°C followed by incubation at 18-25°C, but the infections apparently were initiated while the nuts were on the tree. Infections were confined to the shell and appeared not to affect seed germination or seedling growth (Jaynes and DePalma, 1984).
Effect on Seed Quality
The only study available suggests that seed viability is not affected by this fungus, as only the outer tissues are affected (Jaynes and DePalma, 1984).
The fungus can be transmitted through seed contamination (Jaynes and DePalma, 1984) but infection of seedlings was not demonstrated.
Seed Health Tests
No tests have been developed.
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|Bark||fungi/fruiting bodies; fungi/hyphae|
|Leaves||fungi/hyphae||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually invisible|
|Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches||fungi/fruiting bodies; fungi/hyphae||Yes||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
|True seeds (inc. grain)||fungi/hyphae||Yes||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually invisible|
|Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport|
|Fruits (inc. pods)|
|Growing medium accompanying plants|
ImpactTop of page
UsesTop of page
DiagnosisTop of page
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Research on the control of C. parasitica centres around breeding for blight resistance using the high levels of blight resistance found in Asian chestnut species; breeding using the lower levels of blight resistance in some European and large, surviving American chestnuts; the use of hypovirulent strains of C. parasitica that are infected with dsRNA hypoviruses; forest management practices; and application of soil and microbe compresses to cankers. After early efforts to hybridize Chinese and Japanese chestnut with American chestnut did not produce blight-resistant trees with forest-tree form, the backcross method of breeding was suggested and adopted (Burnham, 1981). With this approach, blight-resistance genes from Chinese chestnut are transferred to American chestnut by backcrossing the most resistant Chinese x American hybrids to American chestnut three or more times. Then, the most blight-resistant progeny are intercrossed to obtain the level of blight resistance of Chinese chestnut with the forest-tree form of American chestnut. Good progress with the aid of molecular mapping is being made in this approach (Anagnostakis, 1992; Kubisiak et al., 1997; Hebard, 2002). Selected trees of European chestnut (Bazzigher, 1981) and some large, surviving American chestnut trees (Griffin et al., 1983) have been shown to have useful levels of blight resistance. The American chestnuts have been intercrossed to increase the level of blight resistance (Griffin, 2000).
Hypovirulent strains of C. parasitica, infected with Cryphonectria hypovirus 1 (CHV1), have spread naturally on European chestnut in Italy, southern Switzerland, and surrounding countries (Alleman et al., 1999). The spread of CHV1 and the hypovirulent strain have been associated with natural chestnut blight control on European chestnut, even though C. parasitica strains in different vegetative compatibility types potentially limit hypovirus transmission (Heiniger and Rigling, 1994). In addition, artificial inoculation of cankers with hypovirulent strains has been used successfully to control blight on European chestnut infected with a few vegetative compatiblity types of C. parasitica (Grente, 1981;Turchetti and Maresi, 1988). In contrast, cork-borer hole inoculations around cankers with mixtures of CHV1-infected C. parasitica and other hypovirulent strains of American origin have not generally resulted in blight control on blight-susceptible American chestnuts. Vegetative incompatibility among the many strains of C. parasitica present on American chestnut has been identified as an important barrier to transmission of hypoviruses and conversion of virulent strains to hypovirulence (Anagnostakis and Day, 1979; Liu and Milgoom, 1996). In addition, the abundance of virulent inoculum in American chestnut stands, the high blight susceptibility of American chestnut, and stressful site factors may result in rapid tree death and insufficient time for CHV1 and other hypoviruses to spread (Griffin, 2000). Inoculation of CHV1-infected C. parasitica strains around cankers on grafted American chestnut trees, derived from large survivors, has resulted in a high level and a long period (20 years) of blight control; spread of CHV1 into a large number of C. parasitica vegetative compatibility types on these trees has occurred (Hogan and Griffin, 2002). In this integrated management approach, low levels of blight resistance in the chestnut grafts, spread of CHV1, favorable spatial patterns of hypovirulent strains and vegetative compatibility types on the trees, and favorable forest management factors (low attitude, mesic site with control of competing hardwoods) have been associated with blight control.
Application of soil, compost, or sphagnum peat compresses, or antagonistic microbes (Roane et al., 1986; Tattar et al., 1996) to individual cankers has resulted in some blight control, but is limited to accessible parts of a tree, such as the lower stem or branches. Each canker must be treated separately. Soil compresses should be applied early in canker development to be effective. Graft unions can be protected from C. parasitica using soil from the base of the tree in a similar manner. Chemical control has not been effective except for the protection of graft unions with fungicides (Turchetti et al., 1981; Canciani et al., 1995).
ReferencesTop of page
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Pérez-Sierra A, Linde S van der, Romón-Ochoa P, Jones B, Gorton C, 2020. First report of Cryphonectria parasitica on abandoned galls of Dryocosmus kuriphilus on sweet chestnut in the United Kingdom. New Disease Reports. DOI:10.5197/j.2044-0588.2020.041.034
Peters F S, Holweg C L, Rigling D, Metzler B, 2012. Chestnut blight in south-western Germany: multiple introductions of Cryphonectria parasitica and slow hypovirus spread. Forest Pathology. 42 (5), 397-404. DOI:10.1111/j.1439-0329.2012.00773.x
Radócz L, Tarcali G, Egyed K, 2010. The chestnut blight fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica Murr. (Barr)) in the central-European region. Acta Horticulturae. 399-404. http://www.actahort.org/books/866/866_52.htm
Saad A T, Temsah M, Hanna L T, 2012. First report of Cryphonectria parasitica on chestnut in Lebanon. [2012 APS Annual Meeting Augst 4-8, Providence, RI], USA: The American Phytopathological Society. 417. https://www.apsnet.org/meetings/Documents/2012_Meeting_Abstracts/aps12abP417.htm
Sotirovski K, Papazova-Anakieva I, Grünwald N J, Milgroom M G, 2004. Low diversity of vegetative compatibility types and mating type of Cryphonectria parasitica in the southern Balkans. Plant Pathology. 53 (3), 325-333. DOI:10.1111/j.0032-0862.2004.01006.x
Tarcali G, Radócz L, Juhásová G, Adamčiková K, Dávid I, Kobza M, Jenei A, Kósa J, 2008. New data of the appearance of Cryphonectria parasitica (Murr.) Barr fungus in Hungary and in Slovakia. (Újabb adatok a Cryphonectria parasitica (Murr.) Barr megjelenéséről magyarország és Szlovákia területén.). In: 13. Tiszántúli Növényvédelmi Fórum, 15-16 October 2008, Debrecen, Hungary. [ed. by Dávid I, Kövics G J]. Debrecen, Hungary: Debreceni Egyetem, Agrártudományi Centrum, Mezögazdaságtudományi Kar. 51-58.
Tziros G T, Diamandis S, 2016. First report of chestnut blight caused by Cryphonectria parasitica on European chestnut (Castanea sativa) on Corfu Island, Greece. Plant Disease. 100 (7), 1502. DOI:10.1094/PDIS-01-16-0065-PDN
Tziros G T, Nakopoulou Z G, Diamandis S, 2015. Cryphonectria parasitica, the chestnut blight fungus, causes cankers on Quercus frainetto in Greece. Australasian Plant Disease Notes. 10 (1), 19. DOI:10.1007/s13314-015-0171-4
Zamora P, Martín A B, Arrate J, Rigling D, Diez J J, 2008. Detection of the vegetative compatibility groups of Cryphonectria parasitica in Castilla y León region. Acta Horticulturae. 159-162. http://www.actahort.org
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