Researchers at Washington State University are hoping a $1.3 million federal grant will help them combat a Grinch-like fungal disease that causes headaches for Christmas tree growers.

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Researchers at Washington State University are hoping a $1.3 million federal grant will help them combat a Grinch-like fungal disease that causes headaches for Christmas tree growers.

The Spokesman-Review says ( http://is.gd/mCgbez) the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the grant to Gary Chastagner at Washington State University, and a team of researchers at other universities.

They’re studying Phytophthora root rot, a fungal disease that costs the Christmas-tree industry millions of dollars every year. An infestation could wipe out 75 percent of a tree grower’s field.

Phytophthora thrives in damp, poorly drained places like the Pacific Northwest, which grows 40 percent of the nation’s Christmas trees.

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There is no effective control for Phytophthora, so researchers are hoping to identify resistant tree species.

Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com

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