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Biosecurity researchers aid the surveillance of exotic disease

Media Release: 30 July 2010

You could be forgiven for thinking it’s a military operation planning room. Topographical maps are spread across the table with bright coloured dots indicating where the threat was located and hopefully eliminated. Satellite imagery of the local terrain is projected on to a white screen at the front of the room showing lush agricultural areas and mountainous state forests. There are no military uniforms though. This meeting is a gathering of scientists from the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity and Industry & Investment New South Wales staff who are planning surveillance strategies to monitor this exotic threat.
The threat is Uredo rangelli (Myrtle rust) which was recently detected at a NSW Central Coast cut flower growing facility. Very closely related to the rust fungus causing guava rust, it infects the Myrtaceae family of plants (which includes many Australian native species). This is the first detection of Myrtle rust in Australia and while it’s not been found on eucalypts, there is limited knowledge of its impact or behaviour under Australian conditions. 
CRC chief executive officer, Dr Simon McKirdy said the CRC was approached by Australia’s Plant Health Committee (PHC) to deploy scientific resources and assist with surveillance of the rust.
“Given our plant biosecurity research activities, PHC approached us as part of their management strategy. We have flown in researchers from across the country to provide as much assistance as we can,” he said. READ MORE
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