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Scientists & Staff

Michael E. Ostry

Research Plant Pathologist
Biological and Environmental Influences on Forest Health and Productivity
1561 Lindig Ave.
St. Paul, Minnesota 55108
Phone: 651-649-5113

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Current Research

How forests are managed and what purposes/uses they are managed for can inadvertently result in conditions more conducive to the development of damaging diseases than under previous management systems. Many forests in the Midwest are undergoing natural successional changes as well as silvicultural changes that influence populations of pathogens. We are researching these interactions and developing new management guides to minimize the incidence and severity of disease. Exotic pathogens causing white pine blister rust and butternut canker continue to have serious impacts on their hosts, and we are working to develop management, conservation, and restoration guides to manage these ecologically important forest tree species

Research Interests

We are beginning to use GIS tools in developing and studying local and regional models to explain and minimize disease outbreaks in native forest ecosystems and plantations.

We have limited knowledge on the distribution of many endemic fungal species and a poor understanding of their ecological role and importance in forest systems. These organisms and their interactions with other biotic organisms and abiotic factors need to be studied either to maintain their functions or prevent their undesirable effects.

Why This Research is Important

Native fungi and diseases are natural components of healthy forests that have many beneficial roles, however, under certain conditions periodic disease outbreaks can interfere with management objectives. Exotic pathogens have had profound effects on forest ecosystems and methods for the conservation and restoration of tree species impacted are needed.


  • University of Minnesota, Ph.D. Forestry,
  • University of Minnesota, M.S. Plant Pathology,
  • University of Minnesota, B.S. Forestry,

Professional Organizations

  • Society of American Foresters
  • American Phytopathological Society
  • IUFRO, International Poplar Commission

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Bronze Leaf Disease Poses a Threat to Aspen Breeding (2013)
Bronze leaf of hybrid aspen is a systemic disease that results in a characteristic dark purple to brown pigmentation of infected aspen leaves in late summer. Branches on affected trees die over a period of several years until entire trees eventually die. Many otherwise promising hybrids and natural hybrids are highly susceptible, which suggests that this disease is an important ecological natural genetic barrier that maintains pure aspen species. Forest Service scientists have studied and characterized the complete life cycle, pathology, and host range of this fungus, which were previously unknown.

Last updated on : 10-Sep-2015