MPI Research projects

To help New Zealand better understand myrtle rust and limit its impact, the Ministry for Primary Industries commissioned an urgent comprehensive research programme in mid-2017, with more than 20 projects valued at around $3.7 million.

These projects are due for completion in the coming months. The findings will be published here and shared at the 2019 Myrtle Rust Science Symposium 9-10 September Jet Park Hotel, Auckland Airport.

The projects fall under five themes:

1. Understanding myrtle rust

This research will increase understanding of how myrtle rust operates in the New Zealand environment so tools and approaches can be developed to help manage the disease. Projects include identifying native and important exotic host species susceptibility to myrtle rust.

2. Improving management tools and approaches

This research is seeking ways to reduce the impact of myrtle rust and safeguard highly valued sites, species, individual plants and germplasm (seeds and other parts of plants that can produce new plants).  Projects include developing a seed banking and germplasm strategy, mapping the distribution of high priority myrtles across New Zealand, and identifying nationally important iconic/taonga individuals.

3. Te Ao Māori (the Māori world)

Integrating Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) alongside western science is critical to the short- and long-term management of myrtle rust. Research projects under this theme will help us better understand the disease and its impacts on our native taonga (treasures).

4. Building community engagement and social license

Improved understanding of public perceptions and behaviours about myrtle rust and management tools and approaches will enable better decision-making. These research projects will help ensure individuals, groups and communities are informed, empowered, and support initiatives to manage myrtle rust.

5. Evaluating the impacts of myrtle rust and disease control efforts

These projects are examining the effectiveness of efforts to control the disease and reduce its impact on susceptible and dependent species.