Phytophthora in tree crops in eastern Australia

New research from the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney has examined the presence of the oomycete phytophthora in commercial tree stock. Trees from growers in New South Wales and Victoria were examined. The research has been published in the journal Plant Pathology with authors Matthew H. LaurenceAllison A. MertinKelly ScarlettClara PangSamiya TabassumMichelle R. LeishmanTreena I. BurgessDavid I. GuestBrett A. Summerell.

This study focused on the incidence and diversity of Phytophthora in amenity tree nursery stock in eastern Australia, primarily New South Wales, with one nursery from Victoria. The findings revealed a high incidence of Phytophthora in nursery stock destined for urban greening projects, having an overall positive rate of 22.1%, with incidence in individual nurseries ranging from 2.5% to 32%. The study detected 13 described Phytophthora species that are considered polyphagous on woody hosts and three lineages that potentially represent novel species. In addition, the detection of Pmediterranea and Pheterospora represent first reports for Australia, with Pmediterranea considered a biosecurity concern. The study highlights the substantial risk associated with the live plant trade as a source of Phytophthora introduction into urban forests and beyond. These findings underscore the urgent need to strictly implement clean nursery management practices to reduce the economic and environmental risks associated with Phytophthora in urban greening programmes.

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