Researchers have found a way to tackle a disease that threatens thousands of hectares of Alpine forests each year.
Needle bladder rust causes Norway spruce needles to yellow and fall out, causing a significant reduction in growth.
Scientists in Austria have unlocked a natural defence mechanism that the species can use to fend off the potentially fatal pathogen.
The findings have been published in the BMC Genomics journal.
Disease is one of the major threats facing trees around the globe, especially in a warming world where many organisms are finding themselves living in an environment in which they are under increasing levels of stress.
It is widely predicted that invasive pathogens, and the insects that can spread them, are expected to thrive in a world experiencing climate change.
In evolutionary terms, harmful pathogens developed alongside plants' attempts to protect themselves, creating a multi-millennia cold war between biological kingdoms.
It is a natural defence mechanism that a team of scientists utilised to create a system to protect the Norway spruce from needle bladder rust.