Scientific Opinion; EFSA Panel on Plant Health (PLH)
The Panel on Plant Health was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the Pest Risk Analysis on Phytophthora ramorum prepared by the FP6 project RAPRA, taking into account comments by Member States and additional information since RAPRA. P. ramorum is the oomycete causing sudden oak death in the USA and leaf and twig blight/dieback on a range of ornamental species in North America and Europe. Currently P. ramorum is not listed as a harmful organism in Council Directive 2000/29/EC, but the Commission adopted in 2002 provisional emergency measures to prevent introduction into and spread within the EU. Recent large-scale outbreaks in Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi) plantations in the UK and Ireland have worsened the potential consequences in the risk assessment area. However, the Panel concludes that the broad narrative in the RAPRA report stands and supports its conclusion that “There is a risk of further entry (of known or new lineages and/or mating types), establishment and […] impact”. It is advisable to avoid introductions of different lineages because of inherent phenotypic differences and the potential for sexual recombination. The Panel supports the management options proposed in the RAPRA report and adds further measures for consideration. Uncertainty remains over the extent to which the association between control measures and gradual reduction in the number of cases in nurseries is causal. The emergency measures have not prevented outbreaks occurring in the natural environment. The many other remaining uncertainties (fitness of progeny, hybridisation with other Phytophthora species, host range and epidemiological role of new hosts, early detection of new outbreaks, understanding of long-range dispersal, structure of plant trade networks, origin of the pathogen) call for further research on P. ramorum across Europe. Regulatory work should keep updated with research results on P. ramorum and further development of the Japanese larch outbreaks.