Kawakawa, the ‘holey’ herb of Aotearoa

Kawakawa – photo by Wendy Fox “… And the Lord spake, saying, ‘First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. …. Once the…

Indigenous knowledge: Māori responses to biosecurity threats

What is science? This is a big question that most people, including scientists, may never consider. Science is a huge part of our day to day lives and, today, is considered the most reliable and accurate system for learning about our world. But does this mean that it is the…

The astonishing fungus versus the super survivor thistle

Thistles are nasty weeds on farms around the world, including New Zealand farms and the Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense) is the worst of the bunch. It’s such a nuisance that, much like the month-old yogurt pottle languishing at the back of the work fridge, nobody wants to associate themselves with…

The real kiwi housing crisis

The cheeky little kiwi is a New Zealand icon. Whether you see a kiwi on a $1 coin or branded upon countless gift shop knickknacks, we can agree that it is probably our most iconic species of bird. I mean, an entire country full of people call themselves Kiwi (myself…

Better than Twilight? ‘Team fungi vs Team moth’.

Ask yourself this question. Do you like moths? If one was to swoop into your periphery at this very second would you be curious, ambivalent, or terrified? I am willing to bet that many of you reading this will have a particularly strong opinion of our scaly-winged compadres. I am…

Stop the bot: grapevines, fungus and fungicides

Grapevines Photo by Christine und Hagen Graf CC BY 2.0 When it comes to grapes, people think of fresh table grapes, grape juice, jam, jelly, raisins and, of course, wine! However, these fruit products on your table take more than just a grape to make. Behind the pictures of vines dripping…

Stop rot in salads! Crop rotation stalls carrot fungus

Carrots are a staple vegetable, found in most salads and filled rolls. The crisp carrots that we see every day only get to the table after a long battle against a bunch of pathogens. Alternaria radicina is an ascomycete fungi that infect carrots. It can infect all parts of the…

Hoverfly heroes- win the war on aphids

New Zealanders spend a fair bit of spare time in their gardens. If your roses are looking like the one below, covered in aphids, or your citrus trees have gone black with mould, you could spray insecti- or fungicides. Or, you could add some plants into your garden to encourage…

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…