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Bacteria associated with acute oak decline: Where did they come from? We know where they go

Maddock, D aniel; Brady, Carrie; Denman, Sandra; Arnold, Dawn

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D aniel Maddock

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Carrie Brady
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS DAS

Sandra Denman

Dawn Arnold


Acute oak decline is a high-impact disease causing necrotic lesions on the trunk, crown thinning and the eventual death of oak. Four bacterial species are associated with the lesions-Brenneria goodwinii, Gibbsiella quercinecans, Rahnella victoriana and Lonsdalea Britannica-although an epi-/endophytic lifestyle has also been suggested for these bacteria. However, little is known about their environmental reservoirs or their pathway to endophytic colonisation. This work aimed to investigate the ability of the four AOD-associated bacterial species to survive for prolonged periods within rhizosphere soil, leaves and acorns in vitro, and to design an appropriate method for their recovery. This method was trialled on field samples related to healthy and symptomatic oaks. The in vitro study showed that the majority of these species could survive for at least six weeks within each sample type. Results from the field samples demonstrated that R. victoriana and G. quercinecans appear environmentally widespread, indicating multiple routes of endophytic colonisation might be plausible. B. goodwinii and L. britannica were only identified from acorns from healthy and symptomatic trees, indicating they may be inherited members of the endophytic seed microbiome and, despite their ability to survive outside of the host, their environmental occurrence is limited. Future research should focus on preventative measures targeting the abiotic factors of AOD, how endophytic bacteria shift to a pathogenic cycle and the identification of resilient seed stock that is less susceptible to AOD.


Maddock, D. A., Brady, C., Denman, S., & Arnold, D. (2023). Bacteria associated with acute oak decline: Where did they come from? We know where they go. Microorganisms, 11(11), Article 2789.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 13, 2023
Online Publication Date Nov 17, 2023
Publication Date Nov 17, 2023
Deposit Date Nov 17, 2023
Publicly Available Date Nov 17, 2023
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 11
Article Number 2789
Keywords acute oak decline; AOD; niches; enrichment; recovery; acorns; leaves; rhizosphere
Public URL
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