You are here

Myrtle Rust

Myrtle rust is a plant disease caused by the exotic fungus Uredo rangelii. It was first detected in Australia on 23 April 2010 on the NSW Central Coast. It has established in coastal NSW from the Clyde River north into Queensland (see Figure below). Myrtle rust is likely to spread rapidly to the extent of its biological range as the spores are dispersed readily by wind.

A new plan has been released which outlines how myrtle rust will be managed on national park estate in NSW, including the potential impacts of myrtle rust on threatened species. The plan also provides guidance to managers of other bushland and threatened species sites. More information on myrtle rust and guidance for managing myrtle rust in other environments can be found on the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) website at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/plant/myrtle-rust

The likely impacts of myrtle rust on biodiversity in Australia are unknown. Like P. psidii, infection with myrtle rust may cause significant mortality among younger plants and hence reduce recruitment into adult populations. This may contribute to the decline and extinction of species, which is of immediate concern for those species already at high risk, i.e. threatened species. Reduced recruitment may also have severe impacts on the structure and function of the many natural ecosystems that depend on Myrtaceae. As at 28 March 2011, myrtle rust had been detected in 68 species of Myrtaceae, spanning 27 genera. Severe infection had been observed in relatively few species (most notably scrub turpentine Rhodamnia rubescens and native guava Rhodomyrtus psidoides) but the number of species so affected may increase as new strains of rust evolve. All five threatened species of Myrtaceae exposed to myrtle rust under laboratory test conditions became infected.