The aim of this programme is to identify beneficial organisms – in this case fungal endophytes – that will protect radiata pine from damaging disease agents and increase tree growth.
We aim to achieve the same benefits from endophytes in radiata pine as have been made in other species. Endophytes in trees and pastoral grasses have resulted in significant gains in growth and plant defences.
This current one-year programme (2017) leads on from the project ‘Bioprotection for foliar diseases and disorders of radiata pine’ (2012-2016).
The programme has three main elements:
- Isolating and screening fungal endophytes taken from exceptionally healthy plants – streamlining the selection of beneficial strains of endophytes for foliar disease control.
- Developing techniques to produce large quantities of spore inoculum – enabling the industry to inoculate radiata pine seedlings in commercial nurseries before planting.
- Trialling endophyte treatments in commercial radiata pine plantations – the best endophyte treatments are currently being trialled at over 20 plantation sites, especially in areas with a history of serious losses from foliar diseases such as Red Needle Cast and Dothistroma. The trials are being monitored for establishment, mortality, growth and disease incidence.
The most effective treatments will be made available to the forest industry (e.g. as a seed coating).
Main achievements to date
- Significant increases in tree height and root biomass: results from our trials indicate that the best endophyte treatments are resulting in significant increases in tree height and root biomass.
- New molecular techniques: we have developed molecular techniques to detect specific treatment strains in pine root samples.
The Bioprotection programme is led by Helen Whelan, Post doctoral research, Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University.
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Collaborators from the original project (2012-2016) were Massey University, Plant and Food Research, Scion and The Tree Lab.