Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Myrtle rust: a local biosecurity issue

The following notes are taken from the Queensland Government Website for Environment and Resource Management... go to the about us page if you wish to read the overview of topics covered by this department.
Property, titles and valuations
National parks, marine parks and forests
Climate Change
Environmental management
Wildlife and ecosystems
Indigenous interests
Vegetation management
Land management
Coastal zone
Heritage conservation
Mapping and surveying
Science and research

An issue that is currently gaining attention is a serious fungal disease presenting in areas of Queensland since December ... serious enough to warrant a comprehensive program of management to have been set in place. Here are some notes from the website... with more reading at that site here.
Significant impact may arise:
         "Myrtle rust may potentially have a significant impact on Queensland’s biodiversity, the DERM estate (national parks, State forests and native hardwood plantation areas) and commercial industries using myrtaceous plants, including the cut flower, nursery, garden, native forest timber and bee keeping."

Myrtle rust

What is myrtle rust?

Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease, caused by Uredo rangelii or Puccinia psidii, which belongs to the eucalyptus or guava rust complex of rust fungi. It requires a living host and affects plants in the Myrtaceae family. It is spread by wind, human activity and animals.
The disease is native to South America but was first detected in New South Wales in April 2010. By December, it was present in some areas of Queensland.
While the fungus and the spores are believed to be non-toxic to wildlife, it is likely to make foliage and fruits less palatable as well as affecting their nutritional values.
Myrtle rust poses no known threat to humans. However, visitors to national parks can help reduce its spread.

Affected species

The Myrtaceae family of plants dominate most Australian forests and woodlands, and are the second largest plant family in Queensland with 601 native species. This family includes eucalypts, bloodwoods, bottlebrushes, paperparks, tea trees, lilly pillies and water gums.
Information is being gathered on myrtle rust’s host species range and disease distribution in Queensland environmental conditions. Laboratory host testing of a range of important commercial and ecological Australian species is also being undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and other research agencies.

Recognising myrtle rust

Myrtle rust on Rhodamnia spp. foliage. Image courtesy Biosecurity Queensland
Myrtle rust on Rhodamnia spp. foliage. Image courtesy Biosecurity Queensland
Myrtle rust on Rhodamnia spp. foliage. Image courtesy Biosecurity Queensland
Myrtle rust on Rhodamnia spp. foliage. Image courtesy Biosecurity Queensland
Symptoms appear as spots or lesions that are brown to grey, often with red-purple haloes, that go the whole way through the leaf.
Approximately 10–12 days after infection, masses of bright yellow or orange-yellow spores (powdery specks) appear on the lesion surface.
Lesions can form on actively growing leaves, shoots, fruits and flowers, damaging them and reducing growth and vigour. Over time, some species may die from myrtle rust.

About the work of Biosecurity Queensland

Biosecurity Queensland was launched on 1 March 2007. Since that time, it has developed a strategic plan for biosecurity for all of Queensland.
Bringing together the biosecurity resources and functions of the former Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F), Department of Natural Resources and Water (NRW) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Biosecurity Queensland is now the agency responsible for protecting Queensland's primary industries, environment and way of life.
The main areas of Biosecurity Queensland are:
  • animal biosecurity
  • plant biosecurity
  • invasive plants and animals, such as weeds and pest animals
  • biosecurity science, including diagnostics and research stations
  • animal welfare and keeping
  • product integrity (chemical use and food safety)
  • the Biosecurity Queensland Control Centre (exotic tramp ants and Asian honey bee).

This is the first time anywhere in Australia that all biosecurity capabilities have been brought together under the one agency.
One of the driving factors in establishing Biosecurity Queensland was bringing together the right expertise and capabilities into the one central agency. As a result, Biosecurity Queensland has been able to work more collaboratively and with a more integrated approach to risk management.
A strong focus has also been invested in developing stronger relationships with industry. Industry and all key stakeholders helped develop the Biosecurity strategy for Queensland.
To find out more about the work that Biosecurity Queensland is doing behind the scenes to protect the primary industries sector, visit Biosecurity Queensland.

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