Tree Doctor's Branch of Pathology on Tap

Article excerpt

Byline: Joseph Szadkowski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

All living creatures eventually die. Many times, a disease causes their demise, and that's when the pathologist takes notice. His job is to study the nature of disease, how it spreads and its possible management.

This area of research even extends to the leafy members of society. The forest pathologist works on solving the complexities of tree disease and its ecological and economic impacts.

James Worrall, who has spent more than 20 years studying trees and the pathogens that attack them, has set up a Web site to tutor students, forest lovers and environmentalists about the finer points of his field.

Forest & Shade Tree Pathology

Site address: www.forest pathology.org

Creator: Mr. Worrall of Gunnison, Colo., started the site 10 years ago and has maintained it ever since.

Creator quotable: "I created the site primarily to help students learn forest pathology. It began as a part of the course I taught at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse," Mr. Worrall says. "However, other schools were using it, and when I left academia, I decided to maintain the site as a public service. It is also used by interested public and professionals."

Word from the Webwise: This self-proclaimed "online textbook" uses a simple design, plenty of words, source material from the U.S. Forest Service and a smattering of illustrations to offer a comprehensive primer on 14 General Topics pages, six Disease Profiles pages and a Miscellaneous section.

The Disease Profiles section includes detailed discussions on a pathogen's hosts, cycle, symptoms, distribution and management as it explores such killers as chestnut blight, oak wilt, swiss needle cast and the scary-sounding sudden oak death.

The intriguing General Topics section features loads of information on rusts (obligate parasites and biotrophs), cankers (localized necrosis of the bark and cambium on stems, branches or twigs), wood decay (deterioration by primarily enzymatic activities of microorganisms) and a 3,000-word lesson on disease ecology and management. …