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Update on response to Myrtle rust - 15 September 2010
- Communique: Myrtle rust
15 September 2010
Update on response to Myrtle rust
The Myrtle rust National Management Group (NMG) met on 13 September 2010 to discuss the management actions underway for Myrtle rust (Uredo rangelii).
Myrtle rust was first detected in Australia in April 2010 at a cut flower growing facility on the central coast of New South Wales. Quarantine controls and treatment measures on infected properties are continuing. Recent indications suggest that the rust may have been in Australia for at least a year. The source and origin of myrtle rust is unknown and may never be known.
To date, there has been no detection of the disease on Eucalyptus and other species of Myrtaceae in surrounding native forests.
Myrtle rust has now been confirmed on thirty two sites in New South Wales, concentrated in the Gosford/Wyong area and the Sydney basin with some trace forwards along the mid north coast and south to Nowra. The disease is currently affecting ten Myrtaceae species including willow myrtle, turpentine, tea tree, lilly pilly, water gum, bottle brush and Austromyrtus. With the exception of a single tree in a backyard and others at a TAFE college, the infected sites are retail garden centres, wholesale nurseries and cut flower facilities.
The new sites have been detected through tracing the movement of plants to and from infected properties and intensified surveillance under the interim response plan endorsed by the Myrtle rust NMG. At its meeting of 13 September 2010, the NMG noted the increased number of detections and agreed that response actions should continue as Myrtle rust remains largely contained within commercial properties and to date has not been found in any native forest or bushland.
Host testing under controlled conditions has shown a wider range of Myrtaceae species may be susceptible to the disease. This testing has been under laboratory conditions rather than field trials and may not reflect susceptibility in natural ecosystems. This work is also continuing.
While every effort is being made to suppress the disease, the NMG recognises that with each new detection, eradication of the disease becomes increasingly difficult. Warmer spring weather conditions and actively growing host plants will be key factors in determining whether the fungus is suppressed and if it can be effectively contained and eradicated.
Activities to manage Myrtle rust are being implemented under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) - a legally binding agreement between the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, national plant industry Deed signatories and Plant Health Australia.
The Myrtle rust NMG is comprised of the chief executive officers of the national and state/territory departments of agriculture and primary industries across Australia, representatives of peak industry bodies and Plant Health Australia. The group is chaired by the Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dr Conall O’Connell.
Further advice on Myrtle rust and actions to suppress it can be found in these questions and answers and on the website of the NSW Department of Industry and Investment.
26 Oct 2010