14 Jun 2017

Mānuka genes could help fight myrtle rust - scientist

4:25 pm on 14 June 2017

Mānuka tree genetics has the potential to help the myrtle plant family develop resistance to myrtle rust, a scientist says.


Mānuka trees are very genetically similar to eucalyptus. Photo: Supplied / Bayleys

The airborne disease has spread to Te Puke, meaning there are 46 infected properties across Northland, Waikato, Taranaki and the Bay of Plenty.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said it was no closer to containing the spread, which affects all members of the myrtle plant family - including pōhutakawa and mānuka.

Myrtle rust can threaten plants including pohutukawa, manuka and feijoa trees.

Myrtle rust can threaten plants including pōhutukawa, mānuka and feijoa trees. Photo: Supplied

Plant and Food Research scientist David Chagne said genomes resistant to myrtle rust had been identified in eucalyptus plants - and he hoped mānuka trees could have something similar.

"Pōhutukawa and other species of the myrtle family have genomes that are highly similar, so it's not unlikely that the same or very similar genomic regions would be associated in other myrtle species."

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