Squeaky-clean shoes for Scientists
Squeaky-clean shoes for scientists
Biosecurity officers at Auckland International Airport won’t need to clean any dirty shoes belonging to a select group of international scientists arriving next week for the 5th International Phytophthora working party meeting.
These scientists know the importance of controlling the spread of this class of micro-organisms whose name means “destroyer of plants”.
Over 100 science delegates from 14 different countries will be attending the meeting from 7-12 March, hosted by Crown Research Institute, Scion, Landcare Research and Auckland Regional Council.
Conference convenor Margaret Dick from Scion says the meeting will provide a chance for scientists from around the world to share the results of their research and to develop international collaborations.
“In addition to covering the latest science, methods to detect, manage and eradicate these often virulent micro-organisms will be of great interest.
“There will be a strong contingent from MAF Biosecurity with special focus on preventing the spread of diseases between countries,” Margaret explains.
The fungal-like Phytophthora survive in soil and can easily enter New Zealand on the bottom of dirty footwear.
Around the world, Phytophthora has wreaked havoc, being responsible for the Irish potato famine, sudden oak death as well as being a scourge for home gardeners.
It’s exactly this sort of environmental destruction that the scientists are working to stop and interest in the meeting from both New Zealand and overseas has been much higher than anticipated.
Death of kauri trees on Great Barrier Island caused by Phytophthora has alarmed New Zealanders in the past couple of years, especially since the condition has spread to kauri groves in the north of the North Island.
In addition to kauri, the many species of Phytophthora can infect economically important forestry and horticultural species.
The immediate impact could close markets to New Zealand exporters, followed by a hefty eradication bill that could be in the order of tens of millions of dollars.
The scientists will get the chance to visit infected kauri forests in the Waitakere Ranges before the four day meeting starts on 9 March at Rotorua’s Blue Baths.
The staging of this event in New Zealand demonstrates the country’s commitment to battling these diseases as well our reliance on having world-class biosecurity measures in place.
For more information see www.phyto2010.com
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