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24 March 2006
Biosecurity New Zealand is investigating the occurrence of a new fungus in
Northland that has been found in one orchard and confirmed present in a sample
collected from Trounson Kauri Park. The fungus was detected as a result
of a MAF Operational Research funded project to determine the species of
Phytophthora present in New Zealand using new DNA technology. This
work was undertaken by collaborative project between Landcare Research, ENSIS
Senior adviser surveillance and incursion response (plants) George Gill,
says initial investigations are centred on the plant pathogen Phytophthora
kernoviae, which is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act. This
particular organism, is an invasive pathogen that causes bleeding stem lesions
and foliage dieback on some species of trees.
"The presence of Phytophthora kernoviae has been
confirmed at two sites, but as yet has only been isolated from one species,
namely cherimoya or custard apple. The fungus was only detected in a soil
sample from the second site."
"At this stage the origin of the fungus is unknown. Biosecurity New
Zealand has not been able to establish any link to imported material and
investigations are continuing into the distribution of this fungus."
The fungus was first detected and described in the United Kingdom by
scientists working on the Sudden Oak Death pathogen caused by the related
species Phytophthora ramorum. In the United Kingdom
Phytophthora. kernoviae has been associated with leaf
necrosis, stem die-back and "bleeding cankers" on a range of
species including oaks, rhododendrons, beech, as well as magnolia and other
Biosecurity New Zealand is working closely with scientific experts to
determine the distribution of the fungus. Biosecurity New Zealand has advised
the Department of Conservation and both the Northland and Auckland regional
councils of this detection.
Tina Nixon, Senior Communications Adviser, Biosecurity New Zealand, 027