Highlights

  • Kauri infected with kauri dieback disease. Image - Plant and Food Research

    Kauri infected with kauri dieback disease. Image - Plant and Food Research

Synthesis publication: stopping kauri dieback – how microbes sense the world

Phytophthora acathidicida is the plant pathogen that attacks kauri, causing kauri dieback disease. Zoospores (the reproductive stage of the pathogen) sniff out kauri roots and swim towards them. The Stopping kauri dieback in its tracks project team developed novel assays that allow chemical screening and identification of compounds that inhibit different stages of Phytophthora spp. life cycles. The development of chemotaxis assays of Phytophthora zoospores had not been achieved before, so this research is internationally groundbreaking and a significant step in the development of new tools for the management of kauri dieback.

Phytophthora zoospores can swim up to 0.3 metres per hour, and the team captured amazing video footage of the zoospores of the pathogen – too small to see with the naked eye – swimming around kauri roots and being attracted to substances such as carrot broth. Radio New Zealand’s Our Changing World programme interviewed project leader Dr Monica Gerth in June 2017 and made footage of the swimming spores widely available.

SA Lawrence, CB Armstrong, WM Patrick, ML Gerth 2017. Highthroughput chemical screening identifies compounds that inhibit different stages of the Phytophthora agathidicida and Phytophthora cinnamomi life cycles. Frontiers in Microbiology 8: 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2017.01340

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Kauri canopy.
Stopping kauri dieback in its tracks

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