September 2018 Myrtle Rust Update

September 26, 2018

In this update you will find:

  • Myrtle rust detections over the last month from Biosecurity New Zealand 
  • Endeavour funding successful 
  • Myrtle rust resources live on Science Learning Hub Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao
  • Predicting the climatic risk of myrtle rust during its first year in New Zealand
  • Department of Conservation Success on Mount Karioi 
  • Change in Operational Approach for Biosecurity New Zealand

Detections in the last month

The total number of infected properties reported since the start of the response is 776.

New finds since last update by town/city/suburb – 7 new sites:

  • Auckland: Kawau Island (1)
  • Taranaki: Waitara (1) and New Plymouth (1)
  • Wellington: Cape Palliser (4)

Property type:

Private (623), public land (68), commercial (43), school (16), nursery (13), public conservation land (5), retailer (2), golf course (2), orchard (2), depot (1), cemetery (1).

Susceptible plants

The plants that appear to be most susceptible to myrtle rust in New Zealand so far include ramarama, pōhutukawa, monkey apple and bottle brush.

Endeavour funding successful

The Government is investing $249m in ambitious research projects that will improve the lives of New Zealanders and address some of the challenges we face as a country.

The 69 new research projects were awarded funding through the 2018 round of the Endeavour Fund. This is New Zealand’s largest and most prestigious research and science contestable fund.

One of those projects is Beyond myrtle rust: Next-generation tools to ‘engineer’ forest ecosystem resilience to plant pathogens led by Landcare Research.

Myrtle rust resources live on Science Learning Hub Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao

The Science Learning Hub – Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao links New Zealand scientists with school students, teachers and community audiences.

They recently published a series of myrtle rust resources which are now live on their Hub.

Predicting the climatic risk of myrtle rust during its first year in New Zealand 

After the first detection of myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii) on mainland New
Zealand in May 2017, the Ministry for Primary Industries sought information about how
weather conditions would affect regional and seasonal risk of disease establishment to help plan the incursion response.

Using internationally published information, a pathogen process model was developed to predict infection, latent period and sporulation in relation to weather variables (temperature, relative humidity and solar radiation). Read the full journal article here.

DOC Success on Mount Karioi 

DOC staff have treated and removed all myrtle rust infected ramarama (Lophomyrtus bullata) and rata (Metrosideros difusa) from the Te Toto Gorge Summit Track on Mt Karioi. The track had been closed to the public since April 2018.

MPI and DOC surveillance data helped to target infected plants for treatment and removal along the track.

DOC is now confident that all reported myrtle rust infections, alongside additional infections found in proximity to infected plants, have been treated and removed which has allowed for the Karioi Summit Track to be reopened to the public.

DOC will continue to monitor the track periodically for myrtle rust infection.

Change in Operational Approach for Biosecurity New Zealand 

Given the widespread distribution of the disease, MPI has scaled back its activities. We're focusing on:

  • long-term monitoring
  • researching the development of new management approaches across New Zealand. 

MPI will continue to help collect, analyse, and report myrtle rust data. The data will allow us to build up the picture of the spread and distribution of infection.

But MPI will no longer be doing field work to manage the disease. Activities like surveillance, and spraying or removing infected trees has stopped.  

Landowners with myrtle rust infection on their property can decide how to manage their plants themselves. MPI will continue to provide advice and guidance on what people can do to manage myrtle rust on their own properties.

For more information see the Biosecurity New Zealand's myrtle rust webpage.