Despite their impact on agriculture and horticulture, powdery mildews are still a largely understudied group of plant pathogens in Australia.
The University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment, as part of its Centre for Crop Health, is this week hosting a range of industry experts to dissect the issue via lectures, seminars, laboratory practicals, and a field survey.
Centre for Crop Health Director Professor Levente Kiss said these plant pathogens, while themselves small, were the source of big headaches for the agriculture sector.
“Powdery mildews have been increasingly intercepted by national border surveillance, border inspections and the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy,” Professor Kiss said.
“Also, there is a need for surveillance and diagnostic expertise in commonwealth and state department and industry programs to recognise, collect and identify powdery mildew fungi that impact Australian agriculture.
“Our workshop focuses on surveillance and morphological and molecular identification of powdery mildews to integrate surveillance and diagnostics skills and provide an up-to-date catalogue of the Australian powdery mildew species based on new specimens identified with molecular tools and microscopy.”
In 2018, a similar University of Southern Queensland workshop focused on diagnostics and resulted in a paper that provided the first comprehensive catalogue of this group of plant pathogens.
Professor Kiss said since then new species had emerged as potential biosecurity risks and many undetermined specimens were collected across the country.
“This new workshop will integrate surveillance and diagnostics skills and will provide an extended, up-to-date catalogue of the Australian powdery mildew species based on new specimens identified with modern molecular tools and light microscopy.”
Learn more about the Institute for Life Sciences and the Environment and Centre for Crop Health.