Groundbreaking research by University of Southern Queensland academics is shedding new light on crop disease-causing pathogens that cost plant-based industries millions of dollars damage every year.
Professor of Plant Pathology at USQ’s Centre for Crop Health Levente Kiss is an internationally recognised expert of a large group of microscopic fungi, known as powdery mildews, which cause disease on plants also called powdery mildew. These fungi remain amongst the economically most important plant pathogens in agriculture and horticulture worldwide due to the combined effect of costs of chemical crop protection measures and yield losses.
Professor Kiss is currently leading a project at USQ that is delivered in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and the University of Zurich (Switzerland) to uncover a new way of managing these crop pathogens using a biocontrol approach. This is based on the natural enemies, the so-called hyperparasites of powdery mildews.
"These hyperparasites are the only microbes able to eat up the powdery mildew colonies in the field. Some are commercially available in other parts of the world"
“The issue is they are not very efficient when sold as biofungicide products. No one knows how they are destroying powdery mildews under natural conditions. This is what we want to find out.”