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Main research question/goal
This research focuses on the various beetle species of the genus Monochamus. Where in Belgium do these species occur? To what extent can they function as a vector (carrier) for the Bursaphelenchus xylophilus nematode? This nematode survives in the beetle and is carried through this vector to pine trees. The nematode can cause immense damage (wilt) to susceptible pine trees. B. xylophilus is a European quarantine organism. This work is supported by European and governmental programs. Another aim of this project is the development of an expert procedure for the detection and identification of the vector-nematode symbiosis.

Research approach
We organize a survey to register which Monochamus beetle populations occur in Belgium. Through a national network of pheromone traps positioned in various natural and planted pine tree stands, we detect individuals of endemic and exotic Monochamus  spp.. We also integrate data from public observation campaigns. We chart the various Monochamus species in terms of quantity and spatial distribution. Detected beetles are analyzed for the presence of the harmful pine wilt nematode. We elaborate the specific disperse mechanisms of the nematode in function of the feeding pattern and vector capacity (how the nematode is carried from tree to tree) of the Belgian Monochamus populations. We also develop a procedure to detect and identify the vector-nematode symbiosis. We make an inventory of the elements needed for an emergency plan to eradicate the pine wilt nematode  when an outbreak would occur in Belgium.

Using existing climate and spread models we determine the establishment and dispersal capacities of B. xylophilus for Belgium. The generated knowledge can lead to the configuration of a national action plan to eradicate the pine wilt nematode in case of detection in Belgium.
Effective start/end date1/01/1331/12/15

ID: 4150001