A/Prof. Alexander Idnurm1, Dr. Ciara Beard2, Dr. Anne Smith2, Dr. Andrea Hills2, Dr. Kylie Chambers2
1University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, 2Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Perth, Australia
In the 2019 and 2020 growing seasons new disease symptoms impacting the stem, branches and pods were identified in canola crops in multiple locations in Western Australia. Cladosporium macrocarpum was isolated from diseased material obtained from five independent locations, and Koch’s postulates fulfilled to demonstrate that this fungus is the agent of the disease. One strain was characterised in more detail, to reveal that it has higher tolerance to some of the fungicides used to protect canola from fungal diseases, yet conversely was inhibited by competition from the blackleg fungus Leptosphaeria maculans. As such, the emergence of C. macrocarpum may be consequence of changing farming practises aimed at reducing blackleg or Sclerotinia stem rot diseases.
Alex Idnurm received his PhD from the University of Melbourne doing research to identify genes required for disease development in the blackleg fungus. He spent 12 years in the United States before returning to Australia, picking up again research on fungi that cause disease on canola and as model organisms.