Feeds

Fungal invader bites Spanish ham

Phytophthora hits vital acorn supplies

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Spain's ham producers are eyeing with alarm the spread of a fungus which is threatening the food supply essential to the production of the country's famous leg of pig.

The culprit is Phytophthora1, which attacks the roots of the evergreen encina, (Holm Oak, Quercus ilex)2, whose acorns provide the diet for the indigenous black pigs and endow their flesh with the authentic, and expensive3, taste of jamón ibérico de bellota (Iberian acorn ham).

According to El País, Phytophthora's assault on the oak's root system prevents it taking up water. This, coupled to chronic drought and other factors, has affected 500 areas in Andalucia and Extremadura.

Gerardo Moreno, doctor of Biology and professor at the Universidad de Extremadura, explained: "Soil erosion, longer droughts and air pollution all contribute to the spread of the disease."

Phytophthora hits older oaks particularly hard, which is critical because farmers have in the past banked on the trees' longevity, and have accordingly not concerned themselves with raising new individuals. So, when a venerable encinar (oak wood) falls to the effects of Phytophthora, it's too late.

Alejandro Hernández Matamoros, whose family fattens 500 acorn-fed pigs annually in Jerez de los Caballeros, Extremadura, said: "There are areas where the drought is causing enormous damage. It's a problem which could get very serious: where there are no acorns, there are no Iberian pigs. We need to find a solution, because of lot of people's livelihoods depend on this, they need the oaks."

Professor Moreno admitted that the exact combination of factors which cause the Holm Oak deaths is not known, and that accordingly there's no immediate remedial plan. He concluded: "We've got plenty of groups investigating this, but all of them independently. The situation would be a lot better if we tackled the problem with a unified strategy." ®

Bootnotes

1Phytophthora are actually water moulds (oomycetes). The species in this case is not noted, but could well be Phytophthora cinnamomi. There's more here.

2 The Holm Oak is apparently taking its revenge on the UK, where it's considered a non-native pest. The trees don't much like frost, but rising British temperatures have allowed it to gain a solid foothold.

3 The very best legs of jamón ibérico de bellota go for silly money: 1,500 euros a pop is not uncommon.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.