Friday 10 October 2014

Garlic may save UK trees from disease

Injecting trees with a concentrated form of garlic might help save trees in the UK from deadly diseases.

Operating under an experimental government licence, a prototype piece of technology to administer the solution is being trialled on a woodland estate in Northamptonshire.

Widespread use of the injection process is impractical and expensive but it could potentially help save trees of historic or sentimental value.

Garlic is one of nature's most powerful antibacterial and antifungal agents.It contains a compound called allicin, which scientists are interested in harnessing.

The experimental injection device is made up of a pressurised chamber and eight "octopus" tubes. The pressure punches the solution through the tubes and through special injection units in to the tree's sap system. The needles are positioned in a way to get allicin evenly around the tree.The moment the active agent starts to encounter the disease, it destroys it. The poison is organic and isn't rejected by the tree.

Tests have shown a 95% success rate on trees suffereing from bleeding canker of horse chestnut and Oak trees with Acute Oak decline have improved after treatement.In laboratory conditions allicin kills the pathogen chalara which is responsible for ash dieback.

Caution has been expressed about using this method as Despite being plant-based that doesn't mean it can't harm an ecosystem.

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