Phytophthoras are considered a growing threat to the plantation forest industry as well as to New Zealand's native forests and urban trees. The industry have learned through experience, both international, and nationally, that there is a need to be much more pro-active preparing for new incursions, or from problems caused by species of Phytophthora already present in New Zealand. P. multivora and P. cactorum fit into the latter category and there is particular concern about the problems these particular pathogens might cause to forestry, amenity and horticultural species. Radiata pine, kauri and apple will be used as model hosts.
The objectives of the research are to take a systems biology approach to understanding tree responses to pathogen attack in which host-pathogen interactions are assessed concurrently at the biochemical, genetic and disease expression level and to improve plant breeding, development of diagnostic tools, evaluation of chemically induced responses and establish a core understanding of host defence/ pathogenicity mechanisms associated with Phytophthora infection.
The benefits are to develop improved genetic tolerance to phytophthora disease, a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of Phytophthora infection, selection for broad resistance to Phytophthora infection and an improved resilience of NZ forest estates to new Phytophthora biosecurity threats.