Three students from Loreto Secondary School in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, have produced an award-winning ag science project on ash dieback at this year's BT Young Scientist.

Abigail O’Brien Murray, Erica O’Brien Murray and Olivia O’Shea emerged triumphant at this year's event, receiving both the 'best group project' award and the 'Teagasc special award' for their outstanding scientific achievements.

'Let’s Save the Common Ash: A Continued Story' was the name of the winning project.

Team member Olivia O’Shea explained that currently, 90% of ash trees are affected by ash dieback, causing leaf loss, bark lesions and dieback.


“The first in-vitro experiment tested the effect our treatments have on the growth of the fungus. We took collections every two weeks for a period of five months, with six treatments in total with different concentrations and ratios of the two hormones," she said.

Erica O’Brien Murray added that the trio found a treatment that works significantly across all genotypes, inhibiting the fungus on average at 82.3% and up to 92%, while also having no ill effect on the overall health and growth of the tree.

The 'Teagasc Special Award', presented by assistant director of research at Teagasc Declan Troy, recognises the project that best demonstrates a thorough understanding of the science of agricultural or food production or the use of science to improve technologies available to agricultural or food production.

The BT Young Scientist took place from Thursday 11 January to Saturday 13 January, attracting over 1,100 participants from schools across the island of Ireland.