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The foliar microbiome and implications for myrtle rust infection
Presenter: Hayley Ridgway, Plant & Food Research
Date: 13 December 2023, 11am NZST
The phylloplane, or leaf surface, is colonised by a large and complex community of microbes, including bacteria, fungi, archaea and yeasts. These microorganisms can contribute to plant growth and development, including having a role in protection from disease. The invasive rust Austropuccinia psidii, the causal agent of myrtle rust, infects myrtaceous species, colonising the new foliage (leaves, shoots and flowers) and causing death of tissues. In severe and repeated infection, it can cause plant death. For this webinar, Hayley Ridgway (Science Group Leader - Plant Protection Systems at Plant & Food Research) will present research that investigates the role of microorganisms present on the phylloplane in infection by A. psidii. To do this, she and the team characterised the foliar microbial community on new (young) and previous (old) season’s growth of three myrtaceous species, pōhutakawa, ramarama and mānuka, using Illumina sequencing metabarcoding. The results showed that the microbial community on the leaf surface was distinctive between hosts, site and tissue age. At the same time, a culturome of >1000 microorganisms were recovered from the foliage and individual isolates were assessed for their ability to inhibit infection. In her talk, she will discuss the progress towards identifying a synthetic community of protective A. psidii-antagonistic microorganisms.
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