Project Objectives

The project will focus exclusively on the pinewood nematode (PWN) Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, due to its increasing impact on Portuguese forestry and economy, as well as increased risk to European forestry (cf. recent expansion and detection in Spain, in 2008 in Cáceres and 2010 in Galicia, and now, November 2009, in the island of Madeira).
Through this project - and since most chemical nematicides, for environmental reasons, have either been banned or are in a phasing out stage - alternative control methods will be developed. In recent years, numerous studies regarding essential oils, produced from several plant species, have been evaluated for their natural nematicidal properties. Therefore, knowledge which has accumulated from the different partners involved in this proposal – UE (nematology, nematicidal activity of phytochemicals), FCUL (plant histology, essential oils, phytochemical analysis), ESB (volatile metabolomics, inoculation tests) – will be used in the study of the infection of PWN and evaluation of phytochemicals/volatiles capable of controlling, in an effective and safe way, the nematode and also the disease.
The proposal is divided into the following main tasks: (1) extraction and analysis of essential oils and volatile components for use in bioassays; (2) dose-response studies to evaluate the nematicidal activity of the essential oils, its fractions and decoction waters; (3) inoculation of four pine species with a virulent and an avirulent nematode strain (histopathology, tree resistance and
defense mechanisms); (4) metabolomics analysis of the inoculated trees volatiles; (5) combining all results for evaluating the effectiveness of the different phytochemicals and development of an effective nematicide, based on a better understanding of the disease. As a result, we expected to: (1) discover new nematicidal compounds from the Portuguese aromatic flora; (2) develop new application methods; (3) understand the plant-nematode histopathological interaction; (4) study and understand the role of plant volatiles in the process; (5) produce and transmit valuable results to the industry associated with the forestry sector.

Fellowships

Bolsa de Investigação 01 (BI) no âmbito do projecto (abordagem histopatológica) - Acta da reunião do júri de selecção

Bolsa de Investigação 02 (BI) no âmbito do projecto (abordagem fitoquímica) - Acta da reunião do júri de selecção