The pathogen that causes kauri dieback disease might be harboured and spread through plant nurseries, but BioHeritage researchers think they have a solution.

A team from Scion, MPI, forestry and horticulture sectors, New Zealand Plant Producers Inc, and the BioHeritage Challenge met in March to see if detecting the pathogen in nursery plants would be possible.

BioHeritage knowledge broker Bill Dyck says if they can detect the disease (Phytophthora agathadicida) at this early stage, it would help slow the spread of kauri dieback and the devastating effects it’s having in the wild.

One of the key technical issues the team faces is the development of diagnostic techniques that are extremely accurate when declaring a plant Phytophthora-free.

Being able to make that all-important diagnosis will have scientific and technical challenges, but the team thinks it’s an achievable goal.

As well as helping in the fight for our taonga kauri, a diagnostic tool like that would also have applications in other plant sector nurseries, such as forestry and horticulture.

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