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California a Top Suspect in Tree-Killing Mystery

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Using genetic detective work, UC Berkeley and Italian researchers have traced back to California the origins of a fungus that has killed cypress trees on six of the world's seven continents. Their findings, published Sept. 1, 2011, in Phytopathology, spotlight the hazards of planting trees and other vegetation in regions where they are not native.

Study co-author Matteo Garbelotto, Cooperative Extension specialist in ecosystem sciences, said Monterey cypress became very popular in Europe because they grow fast, and grow really well along the shore. "This popularity may have inadvertently led to the devastating spread of a deadly fungus throughout the world," Garbelotto said.

-Adapted from an article by Sarah Yang