Project Leader

Associate Professor David Lee, University of the Sunshine Coast

Status

ACTIVE

Background

Forestry operations in native forests, environmental plantings and planted forests are major disturbance events, leading to abundant coppice/seedling/juvenile growth that is ideal for the development of Myrtle Rust (Austropuccinia psidii) and endemic fungi of leaves/stems e.g. Quambalaria pitereka. Myrtle rusts’ interaction with endemic fungi and impact on recovery of these disturbed forests are unknown.  This project will complement PBSF029 which focusses on the impact of Myrtle rust following fire disturbance. In addition, we will evaluate several untested novel fungicides for efficacy against these diseases.

Objectives and Impact

Objective:  Myrtle rust and endemic fungi impacts onyoung environmental plantings, and coppice regrowth in native forests following forestry operations (e.g. thinning), are unknown. We aim to quantify disease impact on growth and test novel fungicides to manage these impacts, encouraging ecosystem recovery and forest establishment.

Methods: Establish replicated field trials (2 locations in Southeast-QLD/NNSW) to examine current impact of myrtle rust and endemic fungi on environmental plantings and regrowth forests following forestry operations (Theme 3.2 MR Action Plan). Target species include important native forest Myrtaceae species: e.g. C. citriodora (spotted gums comprise 80% of native forest timber harvested in Queensland), E. cloeziana (Gympie messmate) and Melaleuca species (paperbarks). We will allow natural fungal infection and inoculate coppice/young trees with myrtle rust/endemic fungi to quantify disease impact on tree growth and evaluate efficacy of untested novel fungicides that could protect the species (Theme 4.3 MR Action Plan).

Outputs:

  • Baseline information on myrtle rust/other important endemic fungi impacts in highly disturbed forests.
  • Monitoring sites established to assess recovery of highly disturbed forests and quantify disease mitigating costs (currently unknown) for plant biosecurity.
  • Novel fungicides identified that reduce fungal disease transmission on environmental plantings/regrowth-forests and lower plant biosecurity costs.

Progress (May 2021)

Three trials have been established in a young environmental planting at Doonan and baseline data collected on the impact of myrtle rust and Quambalaria shoot blight on these plantings before and after fungicide treatment. In addition, a thinning treatment has been conducted on a 13-year-old planting to evaluate how coppice regrowth is impacted by endemic and introduced fungi.