As with human health, the plant breeding industry says preparing for new diseases is essential to ensure the grain industry can cope with any unexpected disease incursion.
A researcher from the Institute of Agriculture at the University of Western Australia has conducted a comprehensive review of research on viral diseases in Australian grain and oilseed crops since the 1950s and has sobering news for the Australian grain industry.
UWA Assistant Professor Roger Jones said Aussie ag needs to prepare for future outbreaks of “potentially devastating” viral diseases.
In recent years, plant viruses such as the western beet yellows virus, now known as the turnip yellows virus, which hit canola hard in 2014, have caused widespread yield losses. for some producers.
Professor Jones said crop viruses could cause damage not only to yield but also to crop quality.
He said these virus-induced crop losses ranged from minor crop failure to complete failure and was increasing in magnitude.
“A comprehensive review of the biology, epidemiology and management of harmful viral diseases of these critically important crops was therefore both overdue and timely,” he said.
All 31 viruses known to infect the diverse range of grain and oilseed crops grown in temperate, Mediterranean, subtropical and tropical growing regions of the continent were included in the review.
Seven of these viruses are currently of major economic importance.
The source of the viruses has also been examined and there is a common culprit.
Depending on the virus involved and the climatic conditions, the most important virus vectors that spread each of the 31 viruses were aphids, whiteflies, thrips, leafhoppers or mites.
Looking to the future, Professor Jones said managing viruses and their vectors is complicated by climate change.
“Climate change, induced climate instability and extreme weather events have altered the epidemiology of viruses and vector distribution and decreased the effectiveness of virus and vector control measures,” he said. .
âThe effective management of viruses is influenced by increased resistance to insecticides in major insect and mite vectors, the development of viral strains that break resistance, and insufficient industry awareness of viral diseases.
“Other even more damaging crop viruses and more efficient virus vector species are also likely to spread to Australia from other parts of the world.”
Professor Jones said there is an urgent need for more research funding and other resources to focus on tackling viral disease threats to Australian grain industries.
“The review recommends that future research into viral diseases in Australian grain and oilseed crops be adequately resourced to ensure their protection,” he said.
Professor Jones co-authored the review with Dr Benjamin Congdon of the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Dr Murray Sharman of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Drs Piotr Trebicki and Solomon Maina of Agriculture Victoria, Department of Employment, City. and Regions.
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The story of the crop industry urged to prepare for more viruses first appeared on Farm Online.