Pest categorisation of Gremmeniella abietina
Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Plant Health (PLH) Panel performed a pest categorisation of Gremmeniella abietina, a well-defined species and distinguishable fungus of the family Godroniaceae. The species G. abietina includes several varieties, races and biotypes that are found in different geographical locations, on different hosts and that vary in aggressiveness. The pathogen causes diseases on Pinus species and other conifers such as Abies spp., Picea spp., Larix spp. and Pseudotsuga spp. known as Scleroderris canker in North America and Brunchorstia dieback in Europe. G. abietina has been reported from 19 EU Member States, without apparent ecoclimatic factors limiting establishment. The pathogen is a protected zone (PZ) quarantine pest (Annex IIB) for Ireland and the UK (Northern Ireland). The main European hosts are widespread throughout most of the EU and have been frequently planted in the PZ. The main means of spread are wind-blown ascospores, rain-splashed conidia, plants for planting and traded Christmas trees. Given that G. abietina is most damaging to species that are grown towards the limit of their range, impacts can be expected in the PZ, should the pathogen be introduced there. Risk reduction options include selection of disease-free planting material, nursery inspections, selection of planting sites at some distance from infested plantations, appropriate spacing between plants and thinning. The main uncertainties concern the indeterminate endophytic stage of the fungus, the pathogen distribution and the future taxonomic status of G. abietina, given its intraspecific diversity. All the criteria assessed by the Panel for consideration as potential PZ quarantine pest are met. The criterion of plants for planting being the main pathway for spread for regulated non-quarantine pests is not met: plants for planting are only one of the means of spread of the pathogen.