Skip navigation
C. The Threat of a Tree-killing Pathogen

Narrator: This is Science Today. A tree-killing disease known as sudden oak death which has infected and killed tens of thousands of California's central coast oak trees, has been found to not only have the potential to spread East - but may possibly be able to jump to a different species. There's been preliminary data suggesting the killer spores may infect redwoods as well. David Rizzo, a plant pathologist at the University of California, Davis says sudden oak death was first discovered in California in the mid-Nineties.

Rizzo: We think the main cause of sudden oak death is a fungus or fungus-like organism known as Phytophthora and that is what initially gets in there. It can kill trees on its own, but often it will stress trees that other organisms can also come in.

Narrator: Rizzo warns that visitors in infected areas may inadvertently carry off spores from the soil.

Rizzo: So if somebody is doing off road driving and getting mud in the tires, before they head to an area that does not have the disease, they should probably run their car through a car wash to get the mud off their tires.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.