Early action tipped to save tonnes of Aussie avocados

February 1, 2012
Avocado researchers, Dr. Liz Dann (right) and UQ PhD student Merran Neil

Researchers at UQ's Queensland Alliance for Food and Agriculture (QAAFI) have acted swiftly to ensure Australia's next $180 million avocado crop won't be crippled by a fungus.

The popular fruit is susceptible to several but a study by QAAFI plant pathologist Dr. Liz Dann has isolated and identified a potentially devastating new avocado pathogen which causes severe root problems, particularly in young trees.

Already known to cause black rot in peanuts and collar rot of papaya, the pathogen Calonectria ilicicola had not previously been confirmed as an avocado pathogen.

“The use of clean planting material is the most critical step in successful prevention of black root rot disease, caused by Calonectria ilicicola, in avocado,” Dr. Dann said.

“Sometimes nursery-grown trees look deceptively healthy, even to a plant scientist.

“It's not until you take a close look at an avocado tree's roots and test them for common that you can be reasonably confident a plant is disease free.

“The avocado industry has had a scheme in place to ensure clean (disease free) planting material for many years, and it has served the industry well.

“By confirming the pathogen status of Calonectria ilicicola with this research, the can be added to the list of identified root pathogens.

“Routine testing will alert nursery producers and growers about its presence or absence,” she said.

On average, each Australian consumes nearly three kilograms of avocados annually. With an estimated 1000 commercial growers, the $180 million Australian avocado industry has doubled in the size in the past decade, currently producing an estimated 9 million (5.5 kg) trays or 49,500 tonnes from about 1.6 million (2009–10).

Queensland accounts for some 65% of total Australian avocado production and Australian consumers nationally spend an estimated $420 million a year on avocados and their associated food products.*

Dr. Dann's study was published in the British journal Plant Pathology. This project has been funded by HAL using the Avocado industry levy and matched funds from the Australian Government.

Explore further: Holy Guacamole: Researcher Tracks Invasive Beetle Threatening Florida's Avocados

Related Stories

Invaders could devastate Florida avocado industry

September 21, 2010

Florida's lucrative avocado industry could face a serious blow from a duo of deadly new invaders. Together, the invasive fungus called "laurel wilt disease" and the redbay ambrosia beetle, which carries laurel wilt, represent ...

Laurel wilt of redbay and sassafras: Will avocados be next?

April 2, 2008

Scientists with the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), Iowa State University, and the Florida Division of Forestry have provided the first description of a fungus responsible for the wilt of redbay trees ...

South African firm to market 'GEM' avocados

May 13, 2011

The University of California, Riverside, has signed an exclusive license agreement with Westfalia Fruit Estates, a South African company, to market ‘GEM,' an avocado variety developed by UC Riverside researchers.

Spread of fungus-farming beetles is bad news for trees

July 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- North Carolina State University researchers have found that a subset of fungus-farming ambrosia beetles may be in the early stages of a global epidemic threatening a number of economically important trees, ...

Recommended for you

Lab charts the anatomy of three molecular channels

January 23, 2017

Using a state-of-the-art imaging technology in which molecules are deep frozen, scientists in Roderick MacKinnon's lab at Rockefeller University have reconstructed in unprecedented detail the three-dimensional architecture ...

New steps in the meiosis chromosome dance

January 23, 2017

Where would we be without meiosis and recombination? For a start, none of us sexually reproducing organisms would be here, because that's how sperm and eggs are made. And when meiosis doesn't work properly, it can lead to ...

Research describes missing step in how cells move their cargo

January 23, 2017

Every time a hormone is released from a cell, every time a neurotransmitter leaps across a synapse to relay a message from one neuron to another, the cell must undergo exocytosis. This is the process responsible for transporting ...

Immune defense without collateral damage

January 23, 2017

Researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland have clarified the role of the enzyme MPO. In fighting infections, this enzyme, which gives pus its greenish color, produces a highly aggressive acid that can kill pathogens ...

Provocative prions may protect yeast cells from stress

January 23, 2017

Prions have a notorious reputation. They cause neurodegenerative disease, namely mad cow/Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. And the way these protein particles propagate—getting other proteins to join the pile—can seem insidious.

0 comments

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.