[ASC-media] SCIENTISTS CLOSE IN ON CURE FOR KILLER GUM TREE DISEASE

everard.hunder at dpi.vic.gov.au everard.hunder at dpi.vic.gov.au
Mon Aug 16 12:41:16 EST 2004


Did this one get on? I couldn't see it

Thanks



----- Forwarded by Everard Hunder/NRE on 16/08/2004 12:40 PM -----
                                                                                                                                       
                      Everard Hunder                                                                                                   
                                               To:       asc-media at lists.asc.asn.au                                                    
                      13/08/2004 12:34         cc:                                                                                     
                      PM                       Subject:  SCIENTISTS CLOSE IN ON CURE FOR KILLER GUM TREE DISEASE                       
                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                       




SCIENTISTS CLOSE IN ON CURE FOR KILLER GUM TREE DISEASE

Victorian scientists are on the verge of finding a cure for a
Eucalypt-killing syndrome that has baffled scientists for more than 30
years, the Agriculture Minister, Bob Cameron, announced today.

Mr Cameron said scientists from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI)
had ? for the first time ? demonstrated the symptoms of trees suffering
from Mundulla Yellows could be reversed.

Mundulla Yellows is believed to affect millions of native trees in
Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and NSW.

The leaves of affected trees turn yellow and fall off, and the syndrome
eventually kills the tree.  In some ares more than 70 per cent of eucalypts
had been affected.

"So far Victorian researchers have reversed symptoms in Yellow Gums and now
would like to test this on other eucalyptus species," Mr Cameron said.

"Our scientists induced Mundulla Yellows symptoms in healthy seedlings by
placing them in soil collected from under symptomatic trees in Mundulla.

"Significantly, these induced symptoms disappeared after applying a diluted
nutrient solution to the seedlings."

Mr Cameron said Mundulla Yellows commonly occurred along roadsides and the
removal of affected trees cost councils tens of thousands of dollars a
year.

"The syndrome can also have a significant impact on farm," Mr Cameron said.

"The loss of mature native vegetation in areas where substantial land
clearance has taken place can accelerate dryland salinisation,
environmental degradation and reduce shade and shelter for stock.

"Mundulla Yellows also limits tree flowering and seeding which can impact
on a range of animals that feed on nectar, pollen and seeds.

Mr Cameron said DPI scientists had found strong evidence Mundulla Yellows
was caused by environmental factors.  These findings contrast significantly
with the previous research done in South Australia.

"Our scientists have yet to find an association with a virus-like organism
? as some scientists have hypothesised ? but there is a definite
association with soil," Mr Cameron said.

"Despite these findings, we will continue to look for organisms that may be
linked to Mundulla Yellows."

The DPI Project leader, Dr Jo Luck, said her team had found a range of
environmental factors that interact to cause the yellowing symptoms in
eucalyptus trees.

Dr Luck said the scientists had also managed to reverse Mundulla Yellows
symptoms in River Red Gums in controlled greenhouse conditions using soil
amendments.

"We are very pleased with our preliminary results, but we now need to focus
on what is happening in the soil underneath these sick trees and how the
drought may have played a role", Dr Luck said.

"Further research will clarify the role that soil ions, moisture content,
and nutrient uptake play in the reversing of Mundulla Yellows symptoms."

A more detailed scientific research report will be released later in the
year.

Mr Cameron said the research team had just won a further $462,000 national
contract to continue its work.

The funding was from the National Heritage Trust, with co-investment from
the Victorian Government and the South Australian Department of Environment
and Heritage.

The Victorian research team is made up of scientists who specialise in
plant pathology, virology, bacteriology, molecular biology, soil science,
biometrics, entomology, nematology, mycology and floral ecology.

Media contact: Campbel Giles on 9651 5799  www.vic.gov.au








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