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…

Heavy metal remediation: Defusing the ticking chemical bomb

“Conflict” Picture made by San Jose Think about these questions: 1. Do you understand what is meant by heavy metal pollution?2. Do you know which heavy metals cause pollution? 3. Do you know which methods can control and reduce heavy metal pollution? 4. Have you ever had a heavy metal…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Wondering about wandering possums: Understanding possum movement will save our livestock

New Zealand is home to many introduced species, some of which pose threats to the native flora and fauna. One such “invader” is the brushtail possum, a cat-sized and nocturnal marsupial introduced into New Zealand during the Nineteenth Century, for the fur industry. Possums have big impacts not only on the…

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 Notorious Nestor notabilis: Conservation of the Clever Kea

Hiking the Edwards-Hawdon Route in Arthur’s Pass National Park a few weeks ago, I had my first encounter with the majestic, yet devious, kea (Nestor notabilis). While stopping to catch my breath, a curious kea hopped over to greet me. I was thrilled to see this beautiful bird for the first…