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Fungus discovery offers pine-wilt hope

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The pine-wood nematode is a major pest in the forests of China. The worm, which causes pine-wilt disease, has killed more than 50 million trees and resulted in economic losses of US$22 billion since 1982.

But now, after a study lasting almost a decade, a team of Chinese ecologists has made a discovery that could halt the march of the nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus). Sun Jianghua and his colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Zoology in Beijing have identified a fungus that has a crucial role in the worm’s life cycle, opening the way for potential control strategies.

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