This study examines the effects of climate warming on one of the most widely distributed and destructive forest pathogens, Phytophthora cinnamomi. In Europe, the winter survival of the pathogen is the dominant cue for the development of the disease it causes to oaks, especially Quercus robur and Q. rubra. The potential pathogen and disease geographic ranges were compared in France between two reference periods, 1968–1998 and 2070–2099. Simulations were obtained by combining a physiologically based approach predicting the pathogen winter survival in relation to microhabitat temperature (in the phloem of infected trees) with a regionalized climatic scenario derived from a global circulation model. Positive anomalies in winter temperatures calculated with this scenario were in the range 0.5–5°C between the periods 2070–2099 and the 1968–1998, according to sites and months. As a consequence, higher annual rates of P. cinnamomi survival were predicted, resulting in a potential range expansion of the disease of one to a few hundred kilometers eastward from the Atlantic coast within one century. Based on this example, the study emphasizes the need of a better understanding of the impacts of global change on the biotic constraint constituted by plant pathogens.
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