Myrtle Rust QLD Host List Expands | Myrtle Rust - An Update | Creating Biodiversity | Homes for Wildlife | Biochar Impact on Earthworms | Myrtle Rust in Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens | Soil Microbes Suppress Plant Disease | Study Examines Children's Relationship with Plants | Myrtle Rust in QLD | Australian Native Bees
There have been five new hosts of myrtle rust confirmed since 24 May 2012. These are: Melaleuca salicina; Syzygium cormiflorum; Syzygium kuranda; Rhodomyrtus effusa; and Rhodomyrtus macrocarpa. This brings the total number of host species confirmed in Queensland to 133 from 35 genera of Myrtaceae.
The Queensland host list is regularly updated and includes a susceptibility rating for each known host species. It can be viewed on the Biosecurity Queensland website and includes some eucalyptus and bottlebrush species.
Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the Myrtaceae family, such as rose apple (lilly pilly), tea tree and bottle brush. Because it is a new disease to Australia, we don't yet know its full host range. It is now widely spread in South East Queensland but detections have been confirmed in nurseries in Cairns and Townsville and the total number of myrtle rust cases in Queensland now total 1036, way up from 46 in April 2011.
Myrtle rust can not be eradicated and will continue to spread because it produces thousands of spores that are easily spread by wind, human activity and animals. Though we can't get rid of it, we can limit its spread, manage its impact and carry out research to discover its full host range and seek long-term solutions.
September 2011 is National Biodiversity Month and is held each year to promote the importance of protecting, conserving and improving biodiversity both here in Australia and around the world.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity has been described as the ‘web of life’, ‘the variety of living things’ or ‘the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and ecosystems of which they are a part’. Biodiversity encompasses every living thing that exists on our planet and the environment in which it lives.
Why is biodiversity important?
- We are all dependent on biodiversity for our sustenance, health, well-being and enjoyment of life.
- We derive all of our food and many medicines and industrial products from the wild and domesticated components of biological diversity.
- Biodiversity is the basis for much of our recreation and tourism, and includes the ecosystems that provide us with many services such as clean water.
Five ways you can help protect biodiversity:
- Create a natural habitat in your backyard. Look at plants that are native to your region and help create a backyard sanctuary for local birds and wildlife. [You can find some useful local resources here.]
- Put only water down drains. Things like oils and chemicals may start at the kitchen sink but end up in our waterways and seas and can affect animals and plants living in streams and rivers. Instead of using commercial cleaning chemicals, try using white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. [Get your free Easy Guide to Reducing Hazardous Chemicals in Your Home which lists other low-cost, healthier and green options].
- Be an informed seafood eater. Don't eat threatened fish species. To find out what species you should avoid at the fish market go to Find a Fish - FishNames.com.au or get your free wallet-sized copy of the Sustainable Fish Guide.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle. Look at ways to reduce the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfill and waterways. Many things can now be recycled. For more information on what you can recycle in your local area go to Recycling Near You or Waste and Recycling.
- Start your own compost bin. Approximately 2/3 of all waste that goes to landfill in Australia is organic. Organic matter from your kitchen including vegetable scraps is much better recycled in your garden to improve the diversity of soil life than contributing to landfill. Start composting and you can reduce the need for chemicals and fertilisers in the garden, improve the health of your soil, and the nutrient density of the food you grow.
Greater Diversity in Your Backyard
This short tutorial presented by Planet Ark ambassador Costa Georgiadis will tell you everything you need to know about compost and worm farms at home and how to create greater diversity in your backyard. (September 2011)
Interested in wildlife? Many birds and native animal species nest during spring and are looking for nesting boxes or suitable homes to raise their families. You can quite easily make your own nesting box for possums or micro bats out of everyday materials or encourage other species into your garden with a variety of nesting boxes that suit their needs. Read more: Hollow Logs Homes Spring Newsletter. (September 2011)
Biochar is a byproduct of renewable energy and fuel production from plant materials like forest wastes and crop residues and a form of charcoal that enhances soil fertility and plant growth by increasing soil water and nutrient retention. Biochar can store carbon in the soil for hundreds of years. Researchers in a new study by Baylor University found that earthworms avoided soil enriched with dry biochar, and when they were exposed, their weight decreased. However, they also found that wet biochar in the soil mitigates the harmful effects to earthworms and their avoidance of soil with biochar. Read more: Study Finds Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy May Be Safe for Soil Animals (June 2011)
Plants on which the pathogen has been identified includes three new hosts. Biosecurity Queensland recommend vistors to the Gardens avoid contact with myrtaceous plants. Source: Myrtle rust confirmed at Botanic Gardens (May 2011)
Scientists from Dutch and American laboratories have found 17 microorganisms working together in soil from a sugar beet field that suppresses the root pathogen Rhizoctonia solani. This relationship, discovered with the help of DNA technology, is much more complex than found in past studies of disease-suppressive soils. The plant also plays its part by releasing food for the microbes through its roots. Source: It Takes a Community of Soil Microbes to Protect Plants From Disease (May 2011)
A Finnish study suggests that "horticultural interventions" could assist urban children establish a relationship with plants and the environment, and that access to natural areas enables play such as building huts and climbing trees. Girls were generally more interested in plants and had a greater appreciation of their beauty, while the boys' attitude toward plants was more utilitarian. Sources: Researchers say children need horticultural interventions and Children's Relationship to Plants among Primary School Children in Finland: Comparisons by Location and Gender (April 2011)
Now confirmed on 46 sites in Queensland including production and retail nurseries, residential, business, government and public land in Gold Coast, Redlands, Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast, South Burnett, Scenic Rim and Cairns. Myrtle rust has now been diagnosed on 30 different species of the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae) including many commonly found in gardens. Examples include all Gum trees, Bottle Brush, Paperbark, Ti-tree, Lillypilly, Willow myrtle, Thready bark myrtle, Scrub cherry, Lemon scented myrtle and many other rainforest shrubs. View the full list of known host plants for myrtle rust and photo gallery of affected plants. Biosecurity Queensland encourages members of the public to become familiar with the details of myrtle rust and the plants it is likely to affect, and to report suspected infections to the Customer Service Centre on: 13-25-23. Myrtle rust cannot be eradicated, as it produces large numbers of spores that are easily spread by wind, human activity and animals. Biosecurity Queensland still needs to know if you think you’ve seen myrtle rust to determine the extent to which it has spread and learn more about the disease. Read more here and here. (April 2011)
The Australian Native Bee Research Centre (directed by Dr Anne and Les Dollin) provides a range of free information on native bees, as well as links to highly-recommended booklets on native bees and how to keep them. For more info and to purchase the booklets, contact the Centre. Fax: 02-4576-1196; Write to: ANBRC, PO Box 74, Richmond, NSW 2754; or visit the website.
Russell and Janine Zabel’s website on Australian native bees also provides a wealth of interesting information.
Stingless bees are highly social insects, with one queen and thousands of workers who live together in a protected place which, in nature, is usually in a hollow tree. Stingless bees inhabit the northern parts of Australia, although on the east coast they reach further south than Sydney. They also occur in other tropical parts of the world. The Australian species are much smaller than European honey bees. They are generally black in colour. As their name suggests, they do not have a sting although than can give you a little bite with their jaws. Although there are hundreds of species of Australian native bees, the stingless bees are the only ones that make and store quantities of honey. (Image shows a Teddy Bear Bee - Amegilla Asaropoda). (April 2011)