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In Connecticut and Massachusetts, there have been many recent observations of a novel condition which causes intense reddish orange coloration of tree bark, termed here for the first time as the red bark phenomenon (RBP). Many conifer and hardwood tree species (over 20 species), were found to be affected in a survey conducted in Connecticut in 2009-2010, with the condition being most prevalent on white pine, eastern hemlock, red oak and American beech. The description and distribution of this condition is described. Microscopic examination of tape lift samples from various affected tree bark indicate that the condition is caused by microscopic green algae (Chlorophyta) characterized by branching mats of filamentous series of single cells (10-20 µm in diameter) with thick cell walls. The cytoplasma of the cells from different tree species were all filled with bright orange red pigment and the algae were tentatively identified as belonging to the genus Trentepohlia. Samples of Trentepohlia collected in 2010 from tree boles did not fit the descriptions of any of these native species. It is unknown at this time if this is a Trentepohlia species new to science and if the same species occurs on diverse tree hosts.
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