Friday, 18 March 2016

Time to think about mildews!

Neoerysiphe galeopsidis on Red Dead-nettle
Image: O. Ellingham
It's that time of year again! Spring flowers are starting to bloom across the country and Oliver Ellingham is already thinking about powdery mildews. 

For the past two years, BSBI News & Views readers have supported Oli's research by sending him specimens. Here Oli tells us why he wants your mildewed leaves: 

Erysiphe alphitoides on Oak
Image: O. Ellingham





"I'm a Royal Horticultural Society PhD student at the University of Reading and I'm running a citizen science scheme as part of my research into identifying powdery mildew species.

Podosphaera macularis on Heuchera
Image: O. Ellingham
"By receiving mildewed samples from participants around the UK, I aim to increase our understanding of powdery mildew distribution. 

"This harmful plant disease saps nutrients from its hosts, which are often important horticultural and agricultural plants.

Golovinomyces biocellatus
on Bee-balm
Image: O. Ellingham
"Last year the scheme received 353 samples, double that of its first year: 94% were identified to genus level, and 79% to species level. In two years I have seen 90 of the 150 mildews recorded in the UK, 60% of the total species.

"I hope to expand this great database of mildews in 2016 by continuing collection through citizen science. There's an outline of the process here.

"For more information please see the blog: http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/crg/powdery-mildew-survey-2016/"

Thanks to Oli for telling us about his work, and to all of you who have contributed to his results so far. Please check out Oli's blog and get involved again this year if you can.