Rust fungus to tear backbone out of boneseed

Jan 29, 2008
Rust fungus to tear backbone out of boneseed
Fruiting bodies of the rust fungus, Endophyllum osteospermi, a potential biological control agent for the weed, boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera subspecies monilifera). Image credit – CSIRO

CSIRO’s newly refurbished containment facility for exotic insects and plant pathogens in Canberra is hosting a species of rust fungus which shows promise as a biocontrol agent for the highly invasive plant pest, boneseed.

Named as one of Australia’s 20 Weeds of National Significance, boneseed is a threat to native bushland in south eastern Australia where it forms dense, evergreen monocultures that prevent the growth and regeneration of native plants.

Boneseed has been the target of a collaboration between CSIRO and the Plant Protection Research Institute in Stellenbosch, South Africa, to investigate the possible use of the rust species Endophyllum osteospermi as a biocontrol agent.

“In its home range in southern Africa, boneseed is attacked by a naturally occurring species of rust fungus,” says Dr Louise Morin from CSIRO Entomology and the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Australian Weed Management.

“Boneseed rust is highly promising as a biocontrol agent for boneseed because it reduces growth and reproduction of the plants, deforming infected branches into ‘witches’ brooms’.”

Initial host specificity testing was done in South Africa and the rust is now in quarantine in Canberra for the final testing that is required before an application to release can be made.

Boneseed is currently confined to the south-east of Australia, in particular the Mornington Peninsula and the You Yangs in Victoria, and the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia. Other small, scattered infestations occur throughout Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. The plant has the potential to invade much of southern Australia, endangering native flora and fauna wherever it establishes.

Boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera subspecies monilifera) is often confused with its close relative, bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera subspecies rotundata), which was targeted in an earlier biological control program. It was introduced into Australian gardens around 150 years ago.

Source: CSIRO

Explore further: Sheep flock to Eiffel Tower as French farmers cry wolf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ancient crop could help safeguard world's wheat

Jul 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —Using a crop popular in the Bronze Age but almost unknown today, University of Sydney scientists have helped pave the way to creating wheat resistant to the fungal disease stem rust.

Iron in primeval seas rusted by bacteria

Apr 25, 2013

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the University of Tübingen have been able to show for the first time how microorganisms contributed to the formation of the world's biggest iron ore deposits. The biggest known ...

Recommended for you

Genomes of malaria-carrying mosquitoes sequenced

11 hours ago

Nora Besansky, O'Hara Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the University's Eck Institute for Global Health, has led an international team of scientists in sequencing ...

Bitter food but good medicine from cucumber genetics

11 hours ago

High-tech genomics and traditional Chinese medicine come together as researchers identify the genes responsible for the intense bitter taste of wild cucumbers. Taming this bitterness made cucumber, pumpkin ...

New button mushroom varieties need better protection

15 hours ago

A working group has recently been formed to work on a better protection of button mushroom varieties. It's activities are firstly directed to generate consensus among the spawn/breeding companies to consider ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.