A glass half full of fungi: Something to wine about

  At anytime of the day or night, you can be sure that someone somewhere is enjoying a glass of fruity Sauvignon Blanc, an oaky Chardonnay, or a full-bodied Pinot Noir (Fig. 1). Yes, wine.     This all-time beverage of choice for ancient Romans, aspiring sommelier’s and your average…

Fighting bacteria with bacteria: a novel way of protecting kiwifruit

When people mention brown, round and hairy, kiwifruit aren’t the first thing to appear in the mind’s eye. They are more commonly associated with a vibrant green colour, deliciousness and the final touches on top of a traditional kiwi pavlova. Unfortunately, the recent establishment of a disease novel to New…

The invasion of Californian Thistle (and how to fight back!)

Since 1878, the dreaded Californian thistle has caused mayhem throughout New Zealand farms! It is very problematic to the country’s pastoral farming systems, costing close to $700 million each year. The invaders have been subjected to a continuous battle with herbicides. This has been an effective, if costly, method of control…

There’s something in the water (potential)

On our regular summer beach holidays to Kaka Point in the Catlins, my family’s favourite pastime is boogie-boarding. We don our wetsuits, slap on some sunblock, grab our boards and hit the beach whenever we can. There is something very primeval about pitting yourself against the waves. The exhilaration of…

Why wasps and bees hover over cabbage plants

I grew up in a rural Papua New Guinea village, cared for by my grandpa as my parents were separated. Following the old man daily to his garden, I noticed he had a diversity of food plants from root to tuber crops, from more traditional to introduced vegetables (self-pollinating and vegetatively propagated). Maturing in…

A fungi to be with: Pines, Trichoderma and ECM fungus

The Syrian army are reported to be using cluster bombs on their own people. What makes this weapon more abhorrent than many of the other methods that they have been using? Cluster bombs are very unselective. Once fired there is no way to target them, except at a general area….