First report of laurel wilt disease caused by Raffaelea lauricola on sassafras in North Carolina
Laurel wilt is a vascular disease of plants in the family Lauraceae caused by Raffaelea lauricola T.C. Harrin., Aghayeva & Fraedrich, a fungal symbiont of the redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus Eichh. The beetle and pathogen are native to Asia and have spread rapidly in the southeastern United States since 2002 (Fraedrich et al. 2015). In natural forests, laurel wilt has killed millions of redbay, Persea borbonia (L.) Spreng., and swampbay, Persea palustris (Raf.) Sarg., trees (Hughes et al. 2017) and is killing sassafras, Sassafras albidum (Nutt.), in areas where Persea spp. hosts are present or absent (Fraedrich et al. 2015).