After a century since introduction to North America from Europe, white pine blister rust, caused by Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fisch., is recognized as one of the catastrophic plant disease epidemics in history. It has not yet stabilized and continues to spread and intensify. Its nine native white pine hosts comprise major timber producers, important watershed protectors, keystone ecological species, and the oldest trees on earth. All are highly susceptible and some have been damaged severely in parts of their native range, as well as where they have been planted as exotics. Resistance, the most promising approach to control, requires understanding of genetic interactions between hosts and pathogen, a quest that has been ongoing for half a century. Unlike other hosts of spectacular exotic diseases, such as chestnut blight [caused by Cryphonectria parasitica (Murrill) M.E. Barr] and dutch elm disease [caused by Ophiostoma ulmi (Buisman) Nannf.], white pines (Pinus L.) exhibit a surprising number of resistance mechanisms to blister rust, if at only low frequencies. There are three main kinds:
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