Myrtle /Eucalyptus rust now in South Africa!
Researchers at FABI this week confirmed the presence of the myrtle rust pathogen, Puccinia psidii, in South Africa. The possible presence of
the pathogen was brought to our attention by an alert forester, Marcel Verleur of Sappi, who spotted a diseased Myrtus communis (myrtle) plant
on the KZN south coast. He immediately sent photos of the infected plant to Izette Greyling and Jolanda Roux of the TPCP and CTHB extension
programme, who requested samples for analyses. The identity of the pathogen as P. psidii has been confirmed through the use of DNA sequence
data and morphology.
Puccinia psidii is one of the most important invasive alien plant pathogens and has been described as "the biggest threat to the
ecosystem" in Australia. The confirmation of the presence of this globally important quarantine pathogen in South Africa is likely to have
substantial negative long term consequences for both forestry and for plant conservation in the country.
We urge all foresters, farmers, botanists and other plant lovers to keep their eyes open for this pathogen and to let us know immediately if
you suspect its presence in your area. The pathogen is known only from plants in the Myrtaceae, so start by closely inspecting any such
ornamental in your garden. These include genera such as Eugenia, Heteropyxis, Syzygium, Eucalyptus, Metrosideros and others. Since
the first incidence of myrtle rust was confirmed from the KZN south coast, we especially urge people along the KZN coast to be especially
vigilant. However, it is possible that the pathogen could have been present for much longer and in a much wider area.
If you suspect the presence of the disease in your area, please contact:
Jolanda Roux (firstname.lastname@example.org; 0829093202)
or Izette Greyling (email@example.com)
PLEASE SEE ATTACHED INFORMATION SHEET FOR PHOTOS OF THE SYMPTOMS CAUSED BY PUCCINIA PSIDII
Download the PDF document: MYRTLE rust news Treehealthnet