The center of diversity for white pine blister rust (WPBR) (Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fischer) most likely stretches from central Siberia east of the Ural Mountains to Asia, possibly bounded by the Himalayas to the south. The alternate hosts for WPBR, Asian five-needled pines (Pinus L.) and Ribes L. native to that region have developed WPBR resistance. Because the dispersal of C. ribicola to Europe and North America occurred within the last several hundred years, the North American five-needled white pines, Pinus subsections, Strobus and Parya, had no previous selection pressure to develop resistance. Establishment of WPBR in North American resulted when plants were transported both ways across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1705, Lord Weymouth had white pine (P. strobis L.), also called weymouth pine in Europe, seed and seedlings brought to England. These trees were planted throughout eastern Europe. In the mid-1800s, WPBR outbreaks were reported in Ribes and then in white pines in eastern Europe. The pathogen may have been brought to Europe on an infected pine from Russia. In the late 1800s American nurserymen, unaware of the European rust incidence, imported many infected white pine seedlings from France and Germany for reforestation efforts. By 1914, rust-infected white pine nursery stock was imported into Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. The range of WPBR is established in eastern North America and the Pacific Northwest. New infection sites in Nevada, South Dakota, New Mexico and Colorado have been observed during the 1990s.
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