A threat to our mighty atmospheric guardians

For my generation, Climate change is a deep and consistent fear of an unavoidable doom. Every day we hear reports of melting icecaps, critters going extinct and magical sea creatures washing up on shore with plastic in their stomachs. For a fledgling female scientist like myself, climate change means more…

Baiting for Phytophthora species

White-baiting is a common pastime in Canterbury waterways. Fishing for the small delicacy requires a fine meshed net and a lot of patience. Lincoln University MSc student, Ashika Prasad, is fishing for even smaller creatures, fungal-like microorganisms called Phytophthora that, like whitebait, swim in our waterways.  Phytophthora are notorious plant…

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle threatens palms in the Pacific Region

Coconut is an important crop in Pacific societies. They serve as a source of oil, fiber, food and timber. It is also an important small-holder crop that contributes to food security, improved nutrition, employment and income generation. Production of coconut is affected by the introduction of an invasive pest, the…

The Kauri killer and the three soil types — Looking for answers underground to stop a deadly fungus in its tracks

This past February, I saw my first kauri tree. I had just arrived in New Zealand from the United States and was moving into my office at Lincoln University. There was a small potted plant on my officemate Alexa’s shelf, which was labelled with the name tag “Eric”. Eric seemed…

The goodness of berries: Tolkien and the health of fruit

The spread of corruption, particularly in plants, was  a powerful idea that Tolkien used in his work, especially the Lord of the Rings, to show that something was wrong. “Wide flats lay on either bank, shadowy meads filled with pale white flowers. Luminous these were too, beautiful and yet horrible…

The side effects of climate change you probably haven’t heard about

Climate change: the biggest environmental challenge of our time. It is impossible to escape the ongoing climate change debate. A quick google search of “climate change” when writing this blog generated 136 news articles from over the past 24 hours. It is clearly a very talked about issue and for…

Mānuka: defending grapevines from fungal attack

Leptospermum scoparium, known as tea tree or mānuka, is native to Australia and New Zealand. This iconic plant has been historically used across several industries, including honey production, meat seasoning, and in the pharmaceutical industry as an essential oil for medicinal use. However, there is another potential use related to…

Nematode outlines and wormy crop problems: the fifth EcoLincNZ podcast

Adrian talks to Dr Manjula Kularathna who has just stared at a lecturer at Lincoln University. Manjula is passionate about nematodes and cricket. Manjula is particularly interested in nematodes that affect crops and has worked extensively on nematodes in soy and maize crops. New Zealand has been lacking any researcher in…

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…