First report of Thekopsora minima in Belgium
The NPPO of Belgium recently informed the EPPO Secretariat of the first finding of Thekopsora minima (EPPO Alert List) on its territory. At the end of March 2016, the German NPPO notified Belgium that Vaccinium plants originating from an infected production site in Germany had been delivered to a Belgian nursery. This specialized nursery, located in the province of East-Flanders, produces berry plants and sells other soft fruit plants to final consumers mainly. The nursery was inspected in 2016-04-20 and, although symptoms resembling those of T. minima were observed in the Vaccinium variety concerned by the German notification, the presence of the fungus could not be confirmed. However, at the same nursery 2 other Vaccinium varieties delivered by another German and a Dutch company also showed symptoms (62 plants for planting of Vaccinium corymbosum cvs. ‘Cipria’ and ‘Sunshine blue’). All 3 lots had been delivered in autumn 2015, so cross-contamination might have taken place. Symptomatic plants were sampled in 2016-04-20 and tested by the NRL (Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research). In 2016-05-24, laboratory analysis (morphology, nested-PCR, sequencing) confirmed the identity of the fungus. A short Pest Risk Analysis was conducted and concluded that considering the very high risk of introduction, spread and establishment of the fungus, as well as its host range (Ericaceae), eradication measures were necessary. All infected Vaccinium plants in the nursery have already been destroyed. Tracing-back and forward studies are ongoing. As two deliveries to other EU countries had taken place, NPPOs concerned have been notified. Surveys to detect symptoms of T. minima will continue.
The pest status of Thekopsora minima in Belgium is officially declared as: Transient: actionable, under eradication.
NPPO of Belgium (2016-07).