Sunday 22 March 2015

Return of the Powdery Mildew Survey.

Last year, Waheed Arshad and Oli Ellingham from the University of Reading asked us to help them with their research on Powdery Mildews, and many of you rose to the challenge and sent your specimens to them for analysis. Waheed has now moved on to pastures new (York, where he's looking at Arabidopsis this year), but Oli is looking at Powdery Mildews again this season and hopes that we can help him again. I asked him to remind us what he will be doing and how we can make a contribution. 

Oli said "The 2014 Powdery Mildew Survey produced a total of 51 of the UK's 144 different powdery mildew species. The turn of spring 2015 will see the launch of the 2015 Powdery Mildew Survey

"As part of my research as a University of Reading PhD student, I aim to develop a quick and efficient framework for identification of powdery mildew species. This could also be applied to other troublesome pathogens. I am therefore asking YOU to send in your powdery mildews for identification. Starting with identification of host plant, analysis of the powdery mildews appearance, and DNA sequencing, the project aims to ascertain the identity of powdery mildew species; a practice challenging even for the experts. With approximately 800 different powdery mildew species found worldwide, the possibility of invasive species entering the UK is very real.

"Samples will add to a database of the UK species, offering material on which to test new and established identification methods.

"Will yours be one of the 144 species previously recorded within the UK, or one of thousands of host plants previously recorded? Will it be one to have recently expanded its host range? A new species to the UK? Or a previously unrecorded species?!"

Oli tells me that News & Views readers really rose to the challenge last year, sending their material to him, so let's hope that we can be equally helpful this year. If you have mildewed leaves, or you would like to know more about the project, please contact Oli at this address: As these images from Oli show, no leaf is too scuzzy to send - in fact, the scuzzier the better ;-)

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