iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Anatomical and genetic aspects of ash dieback: a look at the wood structure

Mirela Tulik (1)   , Jacek Zakrzewski (1), Jacek Adamczyk (2), Anna Tereba (3), Barbaros Yaman (4), Justyna A Nowakowska (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 10, Issue 2, Pages 522-528 (2017)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2080-010
Published: Apr 20, 2017 - Copyright © 2017 SISEF

Research Articles

Pathogen diseases are increasingly threatening forest trees under the current climate change, causing a remarkable decrease in the stability of forest ecosystems. Ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) dieback due to Hymenoscyphus fraxineus has been noted in Poland since 1992 and has spread over many European countries. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that ash trees affected by dieback could exhibit a reduced vessel size and density along the trunk, as well as a lowered width of annual wood rings, leading to the weakening of water transport towards the crown. Dead and dying ash trees were sampled in a forest district severely affected by ash decline in southern Poland. Wood samples were collected at different height along the trunk and several wood anatomical characteristics of annual tree rings over the period 2002-2011 were examined. Dead trees showed a stronger reduction in radial growth than dying trees over the period considered. Moreover, the diameter of vessels increased from the crown to the base in both dead and dying trees, while the density decreased. Significant differences between dead and dying trees were detected in size and density of vessels in the period analyzed, as well as in the width of annual rings. DNA extracted from wood samples was analyzed using SSR markers and the main genetic parameters of dead and dying trees were estimated, finding similar levels of polymorphism and only slight non-significant differences between the two health groups. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that pathogens could disrupt the hormonal control of wood formation by interfering with the polar auxin transport, progressively leading to the death of ash trees.


Ash Trees, Microsatellites Markers, Tree Decline, Wood, Vessel Size and Density

Authors’ address

Mirela Tulik
Jacek Zakrzewski
Department of Forest Botany, Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW-WULS), 159 Nowoursynowska St., 02-776 Warsaw (Poland)
Jacek Adamczyk
Institute of Forest Science of Lodz University, 65/67 Konstytucji 3 Maja St. 97-200 Tomaszów Mazowiecki (Poland)
Anna Tereba
Justyna A Nowakowska
Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Forest Research Institute, 3 Braci Lesnej St., Sekocin Stary, 05-090 Raszyn (Poland)
Barbaros Yaman
Wood Anatomy and Dendrochronology Laboratory, Bartin University, Bartin (Turkey)

Corresponding author



Tulik M, Zakrzewski J, Adamczyk J, Tereba A, Yaman B, Nowakowska JA (2017). Anatomical and genetic aspects of ash dieback: a look at the wood structure. iForest 10: 522-528. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2080-010

Academic Editor

Vicente Rozas

Paper history

Received: Apr 08, 2016
Accepted: Jan 21, 2017

First online: Apr 20, 2017
Publication Date: Apr 30, 2017
Publication Time: 2.97 months

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