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International Fusarium Laboratory Workshop

Main objective and purpose of the travel/visit and how does it relate to the objectives of the CRCNPB?

To participate in workshop where participants will be introduced to standard morphological, genetic and molecular techniques currently being used to identify and characterise Fusarium strains. Relevant for CRCNPB Program 2 Diagnostics and Program 6 Education and Training.

How will this trip advance/benefit the applicant's career?

The laboratory workshop allowed Lucy the opportunity to expand her skills level to include general identification of fungi using microscopic techniques. The workshop also provided up-to-date molecular techniques to diagnose fungal plant pathogens. Lucy was also able to extend her international collaborative networks for future Fusarium research.

What are the expected outcomes/benefits for the Australian plant biosecurity system?

New species of Fusarium aside from F. mangiferae were recently reported to cause MMD in other countries such as Brazil and Mexico. Darwin has a unique mango growing condition and with the vast array of Fusarium species occurring worldwide (more than 80 reported to date), it is likely that more than one Fusarium species or subspecies is associated with MMD in Darwin. Going offshore allowed the chance to ascertain what tropical diseases (mango as well as others) associated with Fusarium were occurring in our neighbouring countries. Thus providing information on pathogens upon our frontier as well as expanding crucial networks to allow future involvement in research of interest to Australian plant biosecurity.


The proposed outcomes of the laboratory workshop were for Lucy to be gain experience dealing with different Fusarium strains/isolates, this involved attending lectures and practical laboratory sessions. Also to establish international collaborative networks for future research involving mango and banana diseases.


The lectures and laboratory sessions provided training to maintain high skills level for research and diagnostic capability for detecting Fusarium in numerous plant diseases. Morphological and pigmentation identification was a major component of the laboratory sessions. The workshop allowed Lucy to work with different Fusarium isolates many of which are exotic to Australia. Molecular tools such as polymerase chain reaction tests targeting different genes were also used for identification. Although these tools are used on a regular basis, it was beneficial to get a "Fusarium" perspective especially in the bioinformatics analyses, phylogeny and the possible answers to the ‘what makes a species' question. The sessions covering what makes a species and the numbers or isolates required to determine or characterise a species was particularly interesting.


Analysis of likely opportunities/long term collaborations for the CRCNPB

The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for Lucy to work on exotic Fusarium isolates. Many opportunities for future collaborative projects on serious plant diseases (exotic to Australia) on crops common to Malaysia and Australia, particularly the Northern Territory (NT), were discussed. Of particular interest is Fusarium isolates associated with mango malformation disease in Malaysia. A network was established with Fusarium researchers based at University of Sains Malaysia. The University holds the largest number of Fusarium cultures in the Asian continent. Including Fusarium isolates associated with mango malformation disease. Network links were also established with other Fusarium experts from Norway, USA, Korea and Italy.  


When: June 2008
Location: Penang, Malaysia
Dr Lucy Tran-Nguyen attended the International Fusarium Laboratory Workshop in Penang.