Bio Protection Successes

2017 Forest Growers Conference
Report No:
Report Date:
October 18, 2017
Robert Hill, Helen Whelan: Lincoln University

The Bio-Protection Research Centre has a strong international track record of working with agricultural and forest industries to introduce fungal endophytes into plant nurseries. Gains worth millions of dollars have been achieved, for example in Malaysia and other South-East Asian countries.

Endophytes are fungi that form natural associations with plant roots, improving growth and disease resistance. In New Zealand, the Centre is working to introduce beneficial Trichoderma fungi into radiata pine nurseries.

It is anticipated that Trichoderma will reduce the incidence of foliar pathogens of radiata pine by enhancing plant growth and disease resistance, both in forest nurseries and in plantations. This will eventually lead to significant production and environmental benefits, and cost savings. Early trials from applications of Trichoderma in nurseries show increases in seedling height, stem diameter and root biomass compared to conventional stock. The best endophyte treatments are now being trialled in over 20 plantations throughout New Zealand, in collaboration with forest owners, and from these, further trials will be established using the ‘best of the best’ endophytes.

Research is also showing that Trichoderma persists in root tissues, with an isolate applied in 2012 still present in roots four years later.

Current and future work: a summary

  • Establish eight large radiata field trials in 2018 to validate the best Trichoderma treatments to date.
  • Assess the feasibility of treating established trees with Trichoderma to mitigate disease problems.
  • Isolate and characterise cold- and warm-tolerant strains for use in colder and warmer regions of New Zealand.
  • Assess the potential of Trichoderma treatments to control cypress canker.
  • Assess the potential to improve growth and control Swiss needle cast in Douglas-fir.

Future benefits for the forest industry, based on reduced chemical inputs in nurseries, healthier trees which grow faster, and protection against current and future pathogens, are valued at many millions of dollars. If a new, as yet unknown, radiata pine disease is combatted in the future, the benefits could be priceless.


16 Bio Protection Successes (1.41 Mb)