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…

A Prickly Problem: Munching Away on New Zealand’s Worst Pastoral Weed

200 years ago, there were no thistles present in New Zealand. Fast-forward to 2020 and they are just about everywhere. The worst species is Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense), which is estimated to cost almost $700 million in productivity losses per year.  A beetle, recently introduced to New Zealand to help…

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…

GMO research and environmentally concerned New Zealanders

New Zealand is a small, sparsely populate, faraway place to most people. It evokes romanticised images of wild spaces and good people who sympathise with their natural habitat. Naturally, there have always been efforts to create a meaningful identity for our country that reflects this internationally and entices visitors. ‘Clean…

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…

What’s causing a stink? Identifying volatiles from stink bugs

Brown marmorated stink bugs are considered one of the top pests of concern for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. Armed with a characteristic shield-like shape, they are differentiated from other stink bugs present in New Zealand by a zebra-esque pattern on their abdomen and antennae. Roughly the same size as a…

Danger? New strain of rabbit disease released in New Zealand!

Imagine its August 1997. You’ve just been out to dinner with your family. You settle down for the night surrounded by everyone you love. You wake early in the morning for breakfast, everyone around you is still asleep. Or so they appear to be. You look closer at your mother…