Detection and management of bacterial diseases in Australian allium crops (VN13005)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Due for completion next year, this three-year project has been investigating bacterial diseases of onion crops in order to build the industry’s capacity to manage them, and to enhance the industry’s preparedness for potential incursions of exotic diseases.
What’s the latest update? Investigation of potential bacterial disease-control measures has now commenced.
- The researchers note there are currently no products registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority specifically for the control of bacteria in onion crops. There are, however, over 40 copper-containing products registered for other uses in onions, and potential to expand the registered use of some of these products for the control of bacterial diseases.
- In regards to Pseudomonas syringae pv. porri (Psp), which causes bacterial leaf spot, there are a range of non-copper products that may be effective control measures. The project will be investigating a range of essential oils to this end.
- Fourteen commercial onion varieties are to be screened for resistance or tolerance to Psp.
Classification of the onion rust complex and development of rapid diagnostic assays (VN13001)
Status: Near-completed project
What’s it all about? With onion rust identified as a key biosecurity risk to the industry, this project aims to determine which rusts infect the onion family in Australia and overseas, and to develop reliable diagnostic markers that can be used to identify them.
What’s the latest update? This project is currently wrapping up, with a final report due by the end of 2016 and no new milestone report due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016).
At the time of last reporting, a DNA variation in the fungi’s sodium/calcium exchanger protein (Ca2) has been identified as suitable for discriminating between the exotic European onion rust lineage, the naturalised South Australian/Tasmanian lineage, and the Puccinia mixta + ambigua lineages. This had led to the development, trial and optimisation of new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primer sets able to reliably identify the lineages in the lab.
The project’s findings are set to be incorporated into a diagnostic manual, which will be submitted to the Subcommittee on Plant Health Diagnostic Standards.
Development of an onion white rot forecast model for Tasmania (VN14001)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? Onion white rot is a serious fungal disease. This project aims to develop a forecasting model for its infection periods in Tasmania, and to better understand optimum timings of fungicide applications for control of the disease. Work began earlier in 2016.
What’s the latest update? No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016). At the time of last reporting pilot studies had been completed and were to be used to guide the future work of the project. The initial small-scale trials included looking at onion root growth rate, the effect of timing of initial white rot infection, and the effect of inoculum depth on infection.
Australian onion industry communications (VN15002)
Status: Ongoing project
What’s it all about? This project delivers effective and timely communications to ensure Australian onion growers and other industry stakeholders are kept up-to-date with the latest R&D outcomes, marketing activities, and other industry news and information. In communicating R&D in particular, the ultimate goal is to lead to practice change for growers, boosting productivity and profitability.
The project is also supported by Communication support on VN15002 – Australian onion industry (VN15003).
What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:
- The Onions Australia annual magazine, with the 2016 edition available to directly download here
- Layers newsletters, distributed three times annually
- Monthly e-newsletters
- The Onions Australia website, www.onionsaustralia.org.au
- Social media, via the Onions Australia Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The project will also produce twice-yearly OnionSTAT reports and other resources, such as the onion disease identification poster that has already produced (distributed through the hard copy version of the Onions Australia magazine).
The 2016 edition of the Onions Australia magazine
Other R&D projects of note…
» Managing soil borne diseases of onions project (VN13003), which has been investigating Rhizoctonia solani AG8 as the primary cause of onion stunt. This project is now due for completion, and will be summarised in the next edition of Hortlink when its final report is available.
» Review of the National Biosecurity Plan for the onion industry and development of a biosecurity manual for onion producers (VN15001), for which a service provider was appointed in October.