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Myrtle rust - safeguarding susceptible species

Work has now commenced in NSW and Queensland to collect seeds for the eight target species identified by the Australian Seed Bank Partnership (ASBP) as part of the project to Safeguard Australia’s Threatened Flora. Field work will be undertaken in the Sydney Basin, Southeastern Queensland and Brigalow Belt South.

The Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is supporting the Partnership to build wild seed resources of eight threatened Australian native species known or suspected to be at risk of the plant disease myrtle rust. Myrtle rust is emerging as a national threat to some of Australia’s most economically important and iconic plant species and plant communities, including the World Heritage listed wet tropical rainforests of north-east Queensland. This fungal disease affects the Myrtaceae family of plants that includes Australian natives such as eucalypts, tea-trees and bottlebrushes.

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust will undertake field work in the Sydney region and attempt to make three provenance collections of each of the following taxa: Darwinia glaucophylla; Darwinia peduncularis; Micromyrtus blakleyi; Micromyrtus minutiflora; The Brisbane Botanic Gardens will undertake field work in the Eidsvold / Munduberra / Rolleston area and attempt to make three provenance collections of each of the following taxa: Baeckea trapeza; Calytrix islensis; Corymbia petalophylla; Eucalyptus broviniensis; Eucalyptus sp. Glasshouse Mountains

The species are being targeted because they are considered most vulnerable to the disease. Collected seeds will be stored in facilities in NSW and Queensland.

Myrtle rust is spread by wind, animals and human activity and can result in anything from the deterioration of plant health to plant death and has the potential to impact on nationally significant species, ecological communities, ecosystems and biodiversity. Seed banking is a principal tool for the safe and efficient storage of wild plant genetic diversity, and provides a resource and knowledge base to support in situ management of plant species and communities susceptible to myrtle rust. Activities in relation to myrtle rust management need to be supported at local, regional and national levels and the Australian Seed Bank Partnership, with the generous support of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, is contributing to these critical conservation efforts.