Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Plant info




Phytophthora Dieback

Phytophthora (pronounced fy-TOFF-thora) is a devastating plant killer causing Phytophthora Dieback disease and infection is permanent. It is a soil borne water mould which spreads naturally in water or roots. It is spread much faster and further by humans moving even small amounts of contaminated soil or plant material. 

It was once thought to be native to NSW or introduced such a long time ago that indigenous plants had developed resistance to it but this is now known not to be the case (see C. Howard's work). It is true that Phytophthora Dieback presents itself differently in different vegetation types than it does in other states of Australia, but it is no less of a threat to the natural ecosystems of NSW. The pathogen attacks the roots of plants, travels in water and along root systems and is spread in contaminated soil. This can be via small amounts of soil attached to shoes of walkers up to large soil disturbances during major earthworks. Highly susceptible plants die quickly but even those that are not highly susceptible will succumb during long periods of dry weather. The loss of root mass limits the amount of water and nutrients a plant can absorb, leaving it susceptible to insect attack, other plant diseases and drought stress. 

The pathogen poses a significant threat to ecosystems functions by altering and reducing species composition and structural form of the vegetation. Native birds and animals, invertebrates and microflora may all be threatened by these changes in vegetation by destroying the food and shelter on which they depend. 

There are only three management objectives for Phytophthora Dieback
  • keeping areas free of infection
  • limiting the spread and
  • reduce the impact, by managing infected sites using
    • hygiene
    • quarantine and
    • treatment of infected plants.

On this page we are developing a resource containing up-to-date information to understand and manage Phytophthora species and the plant disease Phytophthora Dieback in NSW. Along with material produced within the Office of Environment and Heritage, we will also draw on experiences from other land managers in Australia.

1. Commonwealth & NSW legislation and plans

  • Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 listing
  • NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 listing
  • NSW Statement of Intent

2. Research & education projects: Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

  • In National Parks in NSW - various projects, ongoing 
  • In Sydney Metro Catchment Management Authority, 2008, includes Best Practice Guidelines for Managing Phytophthora Dieback
  • In Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority, 2008 also includes Best Practice Guidelines for Managing Phytophthora Dieback
  • Project Dieback Blue Mountains World Heritage, from 2009
    • Helping with soil sampling
  • Phytophthora Dieback Education Project 2010

3. Phytophthora Disinfection Procedures

4. Brochures, fact sheets and poster - Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

  • Facts about Phytophthora 
  • Fact sheet: information on Phytophthora cinnamomi and on ways to manage Phytophthora Dieback in nurseries and gardens
  • Managing in natural areas: the five strategies approach
    1. Understanding Phytophthora Dieback
    2. Assessing for risk of disease
    3. Adjusting work practices
    4. Informing staff, contractors and visitors
    5. Treating any infections
  • How to stop the spread: Are you a carrier? Simple actions required to stop the spread.
  • Poster: Don’t let us die

5. Managing Phytophthora Dieback

  • Developing and implementing management for Phytophthora Dieback
    • In home gardens 
    • In nurseries
    • In natural areas

6. Recreation in natural areas

7. References, links and further information for management

 

This page last updated

29 July 2011

 keep-it-out

 

1. Commonwealth and NSW legislation and plans

Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 listing

'Dieback caused by the root-rot fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi' is listed as a 'key threatening process' in Schedule X to the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Commonwealth has developed a Threat Abatement Plan, a Background Document, with lots of supporting information including management of Phytophthora cinnamomi, and a manual Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Plant Conservation in Australia. Go to References, links & further information to see these and other documents. 

NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 listing

In New South Wales, on 13 December 2002 infection of native plants by Phytophthora cinnamomi was listed as a Key Threatening Process in Schedule 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

NSW Statement of Intent

Prior to developing a Threat Abatement Plan for Phytophthora cinnamomi in NSW the NSW Phytophthora Working Group have developed a Statement of Intent which identifies a number of priority actions for this key threatening process. Priority actions are the specific, practical things that must be done to tackle a key threatening process. They have been grouped into 14 overarching threat abatement strategies.

The approved 'NSW Statement of Intent 1: infection of native plants by Phytophthora cinnamomi' is available as a PDF file (835 KB). 

 

2. Research & Education Projects: Botanic Gardens Trust

Phytophthora Dieback in National Parks in New South Wales

Brett Summerell & Edward Liew, Plant Pathologists
Jillian Walsh
Chris Howard, PhD student
Rose Daniel & Therese Suddaby, Project Officers

The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust has been working through a number of projects on Phytophthora Dieback in National Parks in New South Wales for a number of years. Phytophthora Dieback is an exotic introduced disease of a wide range of native plants that has been recently discovered to be affecting plants in a number of national parks in New South Wales.

A collaborative research project between scientists at Sydney's Botanic Gardens and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has discovered the presence of disease in national parks such as Royal National Park, Barrington Tops National Park and Werrikimbee National Park. This disease has been listed as a Key Threatening Process to native vegetation in New South Wales.

Not all plants are susceptible to the disease but those that are often rapidly killed by the pathogen. Grass trees (Xanthorrheoa spp.) are particularly susceptible and usually rapidly die. Many rare and threatened plants, such as the Wollemi Pine, are susceptible to the disease and special precautions must be taken to prevent the pathogen from entering the areas where these trees grow.

Jillian Walsh

A study by Jillian Walsh investigated the distribution of the pathogen within Royal National Park at two scales: a systematic survey by vegetation type, and a targeted survey of populations of Waratah and Spear Grass-tree. As both species are known to be susceptible to Phytophthora Dieback they are potential indicators of the impact of the pathogen on vegetation in Royal National Park (Walsh et al. 2006).

Chris Howard

The findings from the study by Christopher Howard for his PhD thesis (Howard 2008), of genetic variation of Phytophthora cinnamomi in NSW, have implications on the management of Phytophthora Dieback in natural ecosystems of NSW. His survey of National Parks in NSW looked at genetic variation in P. cinnamomi to better understand if P. cinnamomi was native to NSW. It was once thought to be native to NSW or introduced such a long time ago that indigenous plants had developed resistance to it but this study shows that this is not the case. Interestingly the study found there is a considerable imbalance of mating type abundance and that genetic variation is no greater than found elsewhere in Australia, where it is regarded as an introduced species. The study did reveal a greater amount of genotypic diversity in diseased areas in close proximity to urban areas, indicating that human activity is linked to the presence of higher genetic variation in P. cinnamomi. Additionally, higher levels of human activity are linked to greater risk to an ecosystem. The study also revealed that different genotypes found in NSW vary in their pathogenicity on multiple hosts. Therefore it should not be assumed that the dynamics of an infestation are static. Reinfestation by a new genotype could devastate what appears to be a tolerant species. The simple land management lessons from this study are that:

  • P. cinnamomi is a recently introduced pathogen to NSW
  • P. cinnamomi is associated with European settlement, so it cannot be assumed that any resistance to Phytophthora Dieback disease has been developed through long association with the pathogen
  • As P. cinnamomi is associated with human activity all ecosystems where humans visit are at risk of Phytophthora Dieback
  • Different genotypes of P. cinnamomi differ in their ability to infect different plant species and cause disease. So species may be relatively resistant to one genotype but highly susceptible to another
  • As increased levels of human activity are linked to greater genetic variation of P. cinnamomi in an area, any increased activity is also linked to greater risk of the number of plant species being infected by Phytophthora Dieback
  • In an ecosystem, where a soil test reveals the presence of P. cinnamomi, and which appears to be resistant to Phytophthora Dieback may be devastated by the introduction of a different genotype of P. cinnamomi.

Protection by good hygiene practices is the first level of defence. There is no way of visually determining if P. cinnamomi is in the soil and rarely is genotype analysis done when testing for the presence of P. cinnamomi.

Rose Daniel & Therese Suddaby - CMA studies

Studies of the Sydney Metropolitan and Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authorities (CMA) in 2008 resulted in the production of the brochure Facts about Phytophthora, maps of the distribution of Phytophthora cinnamomi in these CMA areas, the production of best practice management plans as well as a report of the susceptibility of selected NSW plant species to P. cinnamomi (see references below). 

The Best Practice Management Guidelines provide details on developing a survey plan, taking samples, hygiene protocols and treating infected areas. Although these Guidelines were developed for the Sydney Metro CMA the practices can be adopted for the management of Phytophthora Dieback in other areas of NSW.

There are many ways in which this disease can be spread including spread on vehicles and bushwalkers and by feral animals such as pigs. There are also concerns that residents living on the edge of national parks could introduce the disease by planting infected plants in their gardens.

Continuing research

On-going research programs aim to survey and map where the pathogen is present and to determine its impact on rare and threatened species in New South Wales. We are using molecular tools to fingerprint the pathogen in different regions so that we can determine their relationships to each other and understand how the pathogen has been spread between and within our national parks.

References

  • 2008. Howard CG. A contemporary study of the genetic variation of Phytophthora cinnamomi recovered from natural ecosystems of New South Wales. PhD Thesis, University of Sydney.
  • 2003. McDougall KL & Summerell BA. The impact of Phytophthora cinnamomi on the flora and vegetation of New South Wales - a re-appraisal. In Phytophthora in Forests and Natural Ecosystems. 2nd International IUFRO Working Party 7.02.09 Meeting, Albany, Western Australia, October 2001. Eds. JA McComb, GE St J Hardy and IC Tommerup; pages 49-56. (Murdoch University Print: Murdoch, Western Australia).
  • 2003 McDougall KL, Summerell BA, Coburn D and Newton M. Phytophthora cinnamomi causing disease in subalpine vegetation in New South Wales. Australasian Plant Pathology 32: 113-115.
  • 2005. Summerell B, Pongpisutta R & Howard C. The biology of Phytophthora cinnamomi, Australasian Plant Conservation 13(4). More.
  • 2006. Walsh J, Keith D, McDougall K, Summerell B & Whelan R. Phytophthora Root Rot: assessing the potential treat to Australia's oldest national park, Ecological Management & Restoration 7(1): 55-60. More.
  • 2003. Walsh J, McDougall KL, Whelan R and Summerell BA. The distribution and impact of Phytophthora cinnamomi in Royal National Park, New South Wales. In Phytophthora in Forests and Natural Ecosystems. 2nd International IUFRO Working Party 7.02.09 Meeting, Albany, Western Australia, October 2001. Eds. JA McComb, GEStJ Hardy and IC Tommerup; pages 280-281. (Murdoch University Print: Murdoch, Western Australia).

See documents from the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority Area project.

  • 2008. Suddaby T & Liew E. Best Practice Management Guidelines for Phytophthora cinnamomi in the Sydney Metropolitan CMA (982 Kb PDF file).
  • 2008 Suddaby T. Survey locations within the Sydney Metropolitan CMA (Map - 1.2 MB PDF file).
  • 2008 Suddaby T. Survey of the distribution of Phytophthora cinnamomi  in bushland of the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority (620 KB).
  • 2008 Suddaby T. The susceptibility of selected NSW plant species to Phytophthora cinnamomi  (517 KB PDF file).

See documents from the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority Area project.

  • 2008 Suddaby T & Liew E. Best Practice Management Guidelines for Phytophthora cinnamomi within the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority Area. (33 pp. - 516 Kb MSWord document).
  • 2008 Suddaby T & Liew E. Phytophthora cinnamomi in the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority Area (Map - 1 Mb pdf).
  • 2008 Suddaby T. Susceptibility of selected NSW plant species to Phytophthora cinnamomi (11 pp. - 398 KB MSWord document)
  • 2008 Suddaby T. Survey of the distribution of Phytophthora cinnamomi in bushland of the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority Area (11 pp. - 663 KB MSWord document).

Project in Sydney Metro Catchment Management Authority, 2008

In association with the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority (CMA) funded a project to survey the distribution of Phytophthora Dieback in the Sydney region and develop guidelines for Phytophthora Dieback Management - Best Practice Management Guidelines for Phytophthora cinnamomi in the Sydney Metropolitan CMA, survey of the distribution of Phytophthora cinnamomi within the Sydney Metropolitan CMA and a report: 'The susceptibility of selected NSW plant species to Phytophthora cinnamomi' are all available. Although these guidelines were developed for the Sydney Metro CMA the practices can be adopted for the management of Phytophthora Dieback in other areas of NSW.

Be sure to include in your plan the additional information and resources in Managing Phytophthora Dieback.

Project in Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority, 2008

In association with the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority (CMA) funded a project to survey the distribution of Phytophthora Dieback in the CMA and develop guidelines for Phytophthora Dieback Management - see CMA site for Best Practice Guidelines, and maps and other reports produced. Although these Guidelines were developed for the Hawkesbury-Nepean CMA the practices can be adopted for the management of Phytophthora Dieback in other areas of NSW.

Be sure to include in your plan the additional information and resources in Managing Phytophthora Dieback.

Project Dieback Blue Mountains World Heritage, 2009

Zoe-Joy Newby, is a PhD student of the University of Sydney based at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Zoe-Joy's project is to better understand the role of Phytophthora in vegetation dieback in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) and to facilitate better-informed policy and decision-making and risk management by assessing the level of threat that this pathogen is posing to the GBMWHA. A map and risk model will be developed as a tool to assess the level of threat and being expressed on a spatial level it will assist in assigning priority to disease management and enable monitoring to assess effectiveness of management.

Helping with soil sampling

Part of the project is to survey the area for Phytophthora cinnamomi, by examining soil throughout the area. This is a very big area and will only be achieved by help from Parks and Wildlife Service staff and community volunteers.  If you are able to assist with collecting soil samples in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area please contact Zoe-Joy at diebackproject@bmwhi.org.au.

Phytophthora Dieback Education Project 2010

The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust received an Environmental Trust Dissemination Grant to conduct some general awareness and educational work to raise the understanding of and reduce the spread across NSW of Phytophthora, a root rot pathogen, which causes Phytophthora Dieback. The project was managed by Dr Edward Liew, Plant Pathology Manager, and conducted by Patricia Meagher, employed as the Phytophthora Education Coordinator. During the project two brochures, a magnet and poster were developed for a range of audiences, substantial updating of this website and three workshops for land managers were conducted on the impacts of the pathogen and ways to minimise its spread.  The development of the five strategies approach to managing Phytophthora Dieback was a key outcome of this program. This approach can be used as a template to managing any disease or pest. 

Phytophthora Dieback kills plants and infection is permanent. The pathogen attacks the roots of plants, travels in water and along root systems and is spread in contaminated soil. This can be via small amounts of soil attached to shoes of walkers up to large soil disturbances during major earthworks. Highly susceptible plants die quickly but even those that are not highly susceptible will succumb during long periods of dry weather. The loss of root mass limits the amount of water and nutrients a plant can absorb, leaving it susceptible to insect attack, other plant diseases and drought stress. The pathogen poses a significant threat to ecosystems functions by altering and reducing species composition and structural form of the vegetation. Native birds and animals, invertebrates and microflora may all be threatened by these changes in vegetation. 

There are only three management objectives for Phytophthora Dieback

  • keeping areas free of infection
  • limiting the spread and
  • managing infected sites using
    • hygiene
    • quarantine and
    • treatment of infected plants.

Firstly, we developed a five strategies approach to manage Phytophthora Dieback in bushland. The strategies are

  1. Understand Phytophthora Dieback
  2. Assess for risk of disease
  3. Adjust work practices to reflect risk
  4. Inform all staff, contractors and visitors 
  5. Treat infections. 

We summarised this into an easy 5-point approach for land managers and published a brochure covering these points.

We've also produced a postcard sized leaflet for a general audience, explaining how it is spread and the simple actions required to halt the spread. The main message here is 'Don't be a Carrier' by starting out clean and staying clean. As mud sticks more easily, avoid wet and muddy areas and clean not just your shoes, but anything that picks up soil, such as walking sticks, tent pegs and of course off-road bikes and car tyres.

Infection is permanent, so a constant and concerted effort is needed from all of us to keep it out, limit its spread and reduce the impact of this killer. Please spread the message - not the Dieback!

6521microfungi.gif
Phytophthora cinnamomi hyphae

Xanthorrhoea
Xanthorrhoea with Phytophthora Dieback

BGT-map
Hawkesbury Nepean 2008 survey map

CMA-map
Sydney Metro CMA 2008 survey map.

3. Phytophthora Disinfection Procedures

Phytophthora cinnamomi ('Pc') is one of many soil-borne diseases that affect native plant species.  While it is also known as 'Dieback Disease', dieback may also have other causes (not all of them related to Phytophthora) in different areas, and for different plant species.

Pc damages native vegetation in many parts of southern Australia. Mud, carried footwear, clothing, vehicles, tyres, equipment and tools, provides the ideal medium to spread Phytophthora cinnamomi. The following precautions should be applied before and after working in bushland to minimise the spread of Pc and other soil pathogens into new areas.

Remove soil or mud from footwear, trowels, spades, secateurs and other manual equipment with a brush or stick. (This includes ground-sheets, gaiters, or any camping gear in contact with the ground). Always carry a spray bottle containing 70% methylated spirits or quaternary ammonium disinfectant to spray soles and sides of footwear.

Vehicles and bikes: Avoid driving or riding on unsealed roads or off-track in suspected areas of infection, particularly in wet conditions. Use properly designed wash-down facilities if available i.e. not draining to soil or to natural watercourses. Hose vehicle thoroughly including under-chassis, to remove all mud. If no special facilities are available, wash-down in area draining only to mains drainage.

When in the bush

  • Stay on designated roads and tracks- do not take shortcuts
  • Consider rescheduling activities if the soil is wet
  • Report any unusual patches of dead or yellowing plants to local National Parks & Wildlife Service offices.

Proprietary disinfectants that will assist in killing pathogen spores include FarmCleanse, Biogram, Phytoclean Coolacide or other non-corrosive products. These can be used to wash down vehicles, machinery and larger, durable outdoor equipment. Most are readily available from farm suppliers and produce stores. Alternatively 1% a.i. sodium hyperchlorite or pool chlorine can be used but this can damage clothing and equipment.

There are National Best Practice Guidelines available on the Commonwealth Government environment website (see detailed outline of documents in the References & Links section), which provide background information, models and tools for assessment, planning and  management along with practical advice on such things as developing a range of things like signage and hygiene solutions.
 
Examples of some of the hygiene solutions for vehicles and people from Appendix 2 are shown in the photos.

carwash
hygiene-kit

foot-bath

The automatic wash-down facility at the entrance to Alcoa’s Huntly bauxite mine in the south-west of Western Australia, designed to remove soil from trucks and light vehicles entering the mine, thus minimising the probability of introducing Phytophthora cinnamomi to the predominantly disease-free site. Photo: E O’Gara A hygiene kit, containing equipment and information to facilitate the cleaning and disinfection of footwear, small tools and equipment against Phytophthora. The Department for Environment and Heritage in South Australia actively promotes the assembly and use of such kits amongst stakeholders. Photo: R Velzeboer, Department for Environment and Heritage in South Australia The Anakie Scrubber footwear cleaning station consists of a metal ramp and disinfectant bath with an immersion plate for the cleaning of footwear prior entering uninfested areas. Photo: D Peters, Parks Victoria

Further advice

Plant Pathology Section, The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Telephone: (02) 9231 8186
Email: pddu@rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
Website
Postal: Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000 (service charges may apply; phone before sending specimens).

4. Brochures, fact sheets & poster

The text and images on the brochures and fact sheets are displayed here, one after the other so you can read and/or print the information all at once, or you can click an image of a brochure or fact sheet to save or print the PDF version.

Newly developed material

The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

See Research & Education Projects for links to Hawkesbury-Nepean and Sydney Metro CMA websites for Best Practice Management Guidelines for Phytophthora cinnamomi.

 

1. How to stop the spread: are you a carrier?

This leaflet explains how Phytophthora Dieback is spread and the simple actions required to halt the spread.

Are you a carrier? Phytophthora Dieback is a silent plant killer.

Phytophthora (pronounced fy-TOFF-thora) is a devastating plant killer. It attacks and rots plant roots, destroying the food and shelter of many animals. It is a water mould which spreads naturally in water or roots. It is spread much faster and further by humans moving contaminated soil or plant material, even small amounts.

When you’re in the bush, please take care not to spread this devastating disease.

Phytophthora Dieback is threatening susceptible plant species, such as the NSW state floral emblem, the Waratah (Telopea speciosissima) which is an abundant source of food for native wildlife.

Protect Australia’s unique plants and the fauna that depend on them. Gang Gang Cockatoos (Callocephalon fimbriatum) feed mainly on seeds, preferring eucalypts and wattles, and they require tall trees for nest hollows. Phytophthora Dieback kills their food and shelter.

dont-be-a-carrier keep-it-out

infection

Don't be a carrier
  • don’t bushwalk when it’s wet and muddy
  • park your vehicle in a designated area
  • start your walk with clean boots and clothes
  • stick to designated roads and tracks
  • don’t pick plant material
  • don’t take mud and dirt home with you
  • use sticks to dislodge clods of dirt
  • use foot baths and cleaning facilities if provided
  • disinfect footwear and equipment.

Not only your shoes! Soil sticks on anything that touches the ground: backpacks, walking sticks, tent pegs and of course off-road bikes and car tyres, and even clothing while you’re sitting!

So dust yourself off and discard any mud or soil as you go.

Disinfecting is easy if you spray with 70% methylated spirits diluted with water.

mud-sticks

 

Phytophthora_flyer

waratah
Waratahs threatened by Phytophthora Dieback

Gang Gang
Gang Gang Cockatoos (Callocephalon fimbriatum) feed mainly on seeds, preferring eucalypts and wattles, and the require tall trees for nest hollows. Phytophthora Dieback kills their food and shelter.

 

2. Managing Phytophthora Dieback in bushland

Our brochure summarises the five strategies approach we have developed to manage Phytophthora Dieback in bushland.

Stamp out the spread of Phytophthora Dieback

Phytophthora (pronounced fy-TOFF-thora) is a silent killer in our midst with the potential to have devastating impacts on ecosystems. It is a water mould that survives in water, soil and plant roots and kills plants by attacking and rotting their roots.

Use this five strategies approach to manage Phytophthora Dieback in your bushland.

This disease kills plants and infection is permanent. We can help by

  • Keeping it out
  • Limiting the spread and
  • Reducing the impact, using
    • Hygiene
    • Quarantine and
    • Treatment of infected plants.

Phytophthora is spread naturally in water and via infected roots, and faster and further by humans moving contaminated soil or plant material. It can remain dormant for long periods during dry weather and is virtually impossible to remove from infected areas.

So limit its spread by managing water and soil movement.

Phytophthora Dieback attacks many native plants and it also has the potential to have a significant impact on nursery, horticulture, floriculture, tourism, mining and forestry industries. This killer can also impact on native animals, including marsupials, birds, reptiles and insects, by reducing or eliminating vegetation they rely on for survival.

1. Understand Phytophthora Dieback

Phytophthora Dieback attacks plants where you can’t see it occurring, at the roots. It travels in water and along root systems and is spread in contaminated soil. What you can see above ground is

  • wilting, yellowing and dieback of the plant
  • quick death of susceptible* plants
  • greater loss of plants during dry weather
  • decline in diversity of natural ecosystems
  • change in vegetation structure
  • loss of animals dependent on those plants for food and shelter
  • change in the functions of ecosystems.

Even plants that are not highly susceptible will succumb during long periods of dry weather. The loss of root mass limits the amount of water and nutrients a plant can absorb, leaving it susceptible to insect attack, plant diseases and drought stress. The spores of Phytophthora can persist indefinitely in an area protected in the roots of plants, even those that are not susceptible to Phytophthora Dieback. Disease depends on three essential components: plant host, environment and the pathogen. Phytophthora occurs in areas with rainfall greater than 500 mm per annum. It is most active when the soil is moist and warm. It can also survive for long periods in plant tissue and soil during dry soil conditions.

Favourable soil conditions for the disease are

  • warm moist conditions between 15-30°C
  • poor drainage and/or open textured soil
  • soil low in nutrients and organic matter.

The only effective ways to combat Phytophthora Dieback are by

  • preventing introduction - keep it out
  • limiting the spread
  • reducing the impact of the disease.

Assess the risk of disease for the site and use data from the assessment to set up an appropriate management plan. Include a site monitoring program and routines to evaluate effectiveness.

* Click here for a list of resistant and susceptible native plants.

2. Assess for risk of disease

Record data from the site assessment in a way that it can be used to monitor changes in vegetation over time. Assess the risk on a yearly cycle.

a) Define climatic risk
Phytophthora is likely to be present in warm moist conditions between 15-30°C with rainfall greater than 500 mm a year.

b) Gather information and quantify risk
Quantify the risk across your site, using information from a survey, and by mapping

  • vegetation, noting known susceptible* plant species and conservation values. Include any historical changes. Over time develop a list of ‘plants at risk’ in your area
  • plant health, including any changes
  • soil type, taking into account texture, amount of organic matter, pH and drainage
  • movement of water across the landscape
  • levels of human activity
  • results of soil analysis for Phytophthora
  • proximity to infected areas
  • proximity to high levels of human activity.

c) Soil sampling
As all spores and structures of Phytophthora are microscopic, only laboratory analysis of soil is definitive. Click here for more details.

Sampling soil for laboratory analysis

  • select an appropriate site, based on disease symptoms
  • use disinfected sampling tools (70% methylated spirits), to ensure you don’t spread the disease while sampling
  • scrape back organic layer above fine roots of plant
  • dig 3-4 holes around plant 10-15 cm deep
  • take a small hand trowel of soil and fine roots from each hole, collecting around two cups per plant
  • mix in a plastic bag, seal and label well and clearly
  • record GPS location
  • do not refrigerate.

d) Develop a reassessment and monitoring program
Establish a program to reassess sites and monitor changes in risk, including updating maps. Stay informed, and review work practices and education programs. Monitor these for effectiveness and alter where needed.

3. Adjust work practices to reflect risk

Human activities cause the most significant, rapid and widespread distribution of Phytophthora Dieback. Any activity that moves soil, water or plant material, or alters the natural movement of water, could spread the disease. Soil can be moved inadvertently or deliberately.

Examples of inadvertent movement of soil or plant material during work or recreation are by

  • footwear, clothing, backpacks, tent pegs, walking sticks
  • companion and work animals (dogs, cats, horses)
  • stock movement
  • tools and equipment
  • machinery and vehicles, including off road driving, motorbikes & bicycles or soil in the foot area of vehicles.

Work activities likely to create movement of soil, water and plant material include

  • road & track construction
  • earth moving
  • controlling water movement
  • mulching
  • revegetation
  • bush regeneration
  • plant propagation
  • forestry
  • pest and weed management
  • fire fighting activities.

Prevent introduction and minimise the spread to unaffected areas by controlling the movement of soil, plant material and water by

  • planning and modifying activities and work practices
    • develop management plans, work protocols and contracts to manage risk of Phytophthora Dieback
    • avoid activities when soil is wet and muddy
    • control water runoff, including from roads & tracks
    • maintain roads & tracks regularly to control water movement and to reduce pooling
  • controlling access
    • provide designated parking facilities
    • install, label and use roads, tracks or boardwalks
    • introduce quarantine areas and buffer zones (fencing, barriers)
  • adopting hygiene procedures
    • ensure shoes, tyres and equipment are free of soil at the start and end of an activity
    • install cleaning bays/wash-down areas for vehicles and machinery
    • provide spray bottles with 70% methylated spirits diluted with water to disinfect tools while working
    • install footwear cleaning stations (footbaths with quaternary ammonium based disinfectant or spray bottles with 70% methylated spirits diluted with water to disinfect shoes & tools).

4.  Inform all staff, contractors & visitors

  • Install interpretive signage
  • Provide information for planning activities to staff and contractors. Include information and maps developed . during the risk assessment
  • Provide brochures and information to visitors
  • Encourage visitor participation to monitor sites.

5. Treat infections

Attempts to eradicate Phytophthora from infected areas have largely been unsuccessful. Treating with the fungicide Phosphonate (Phosphite) boosts the plant’s natural defences and research has shown that it increases the resistance of susceptible plants to Phytophthora Dieback but it does not kill the pathogen. Infected plants remain a reservoir of the pathogen, even after they die. Treatments with Phosphonate are most effective during the active growth months, generally spring and summer. This fungicide is manufactured by a number of companies and is widely available. Spraying provides one to two years protection. Spray when at least two rain-free days are forecast and there is little or no wind.

Treatment instructions

  • Follow safety instructions on the fungicide label: wear protective clothing and spray downwind
  • Equipment needed is a clean backpack sprayer, a surfactant, Phosphonate solution and water
  • To make 10 litres of spraying solution
    • using 20% Phosphonate solution
    • mix 25 mL surfactant and
    • 250 mL phosphonate, and
    • fill with water.

Keep mixture well mixed while spraying, soaking the plants and ensuring all surfaces are wet.

You may need to apply for a permit for off-label use of the fungicide.

There are only three management objectives for Phytophthora Dieback
  • Keep areas free of infection
  • Reduce the spread of infection
  • Manage infected sites.
Contacts and further information

The following web sites have information on susceptible and resistant plants, and details on how to assess your site for Phytophthora, alter work practices and apply treatments.

For more information please contact

Plant Disease Diagnostic Unit
The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Mrs Macquaries Road
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone (02) 9231 8186 or 9231 8189
Fax (02) 9241 1135
Email pddu@rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

 

Phytophthora_brochure

 keep-it-out

mud-sticks

 phytophthora poster

3. 'Don’t let us die' poster

A poster was developed in 2010 as part of the Environmental Trust Dissemination Grant. Print the poster and display in your visitor centres, work areas, or recreational meeting places to remind people of the need to consider the spread of Phytophthora Dieback in their activities.

 

phytophthora poster

4. Facts about Phytophthora

What is Phytophthora?

Phytophthora (pronounced Fy-toff-thora) is a microscopic organism that lives in soil and plant roots. The name Phytophthora is derived from the Greek meaning ‘plant destroyer’. Phytophthora causes root rot in a broad range of plant species, including many native Australian and ornamental plants. Around 60 Phytophthora species have been identified, but P. cinnamomi is the species that is most destructive in native Australian vegetation communities.

hyphae
Hyphae, the vegetative state of Phytophthora cinnamomi

sporangium
Sporangium with zoospores,
the main reproductive propagule, of Phytophthora cinnamomi

How does Phytophthora affect plants?

P. cinnamomi attacks the roots and stems of plants, destroying the root system and reducing the ability of the plant to absorb water and nutrients. In susceptible plants, the young roots become dark and rot.

Above ground, symptoms include wilting, yellowing and retention of dried foliage. Infection may result in the death of the plant. Symptoms are often more severe, and death more rapid, when plants are suffering from water stress (e.g. in summer or drought).

heathland
Dieback due to Phytophthora in a heathland community.
Xanthorrhoea sp. is highly susceptible to P. cinnamomi

lambertia
Lambertia formosa

lambertia
Early symptoms on Lambertia formosa (left) compared to a healthy plant (right)

Is Phytophthora a problem in NSW?

The extent of the occurrence of Phytophthora in NSW is only beginning to emerge, but the pathogen appears to be more widespread than originally thought. It has been identified in the World Heritage areas of northern NSW, including Barrington Tops NP, the Blue Mountains, including Wollemi NP, in southern NSW near Eden and in bushland reserves around Sydney Harbour.

map-NSW

map-Sydney

How is Phytophthora spread?

Phytophthora lives in soil and plant material. Any movement of infested soil or plants can spread the disease.

This includes soil on tools, footwear and vehicles. Phytophthora reproduces very quickly by producing millions of motile zoospores, particularly when the soil is moist and warm. The zoospores can be easily transported in drainage water, especially down slope. When conditions become less favourable, Phytophthora produces resistant chlamydospores, which enable it to survive until conditions become conducive again.

foot-cleaning foot-cleaning-station

Which plants are affected?

Phytophthora cinnamomi threatens the biodiversity of natural ecosystems. The pathogen is known to infect banksias, native peas, eucalypts and ornamentals such as rhododendrons and camellias. It also impacts on native fauna by destroying food sources and habitat.

tree


banksia

How can I manage Phytophthora?

It is impossible to eradicate Phytophthora from infested areas so limiting further spread is critical to management efforts. You can reduce the chances of spreading the disease by

  • Preventing the movement of infected soil or plant material
  • Cleaning your shoes when moving in or out of bushland areas
  • Making sure your tools are clean before you start working
  • Improving organic matter in your garden
  • Ensuring your planting material comes from a reputable nursery.

If you think you may have dieback you can have your soil tested for the presence of Phytophthora.

What is the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust doing?

In order to effectively manage the disease it is essential to understand where Phytophthora occurs. Staff Sydney's Botanic Gardens are surveying the occurrence and distribution of the pathogen. The location of Phytophthora will be mapped and information collected will be used to develop and implement management guidelines. For more information please contact:

Plant Disease Diagnostic Unit
The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney
Mrs Macquaries Road
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9231 8186
Fax: (02) 9241 1135
Email: pddu@rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

 
 

Facts-about-Phytophthora

5. Phytophthora root rot - fact sheet

Phytophthora cinnamomi is a microscopic soilborne organism, invisible to the naked eye, which causes root rot of a wide variety of plant species including many native and introduced plants. Other species of Phytophthora may cause diseases on a wide range of plants but are generally less severe. The biology and control measures are very similar so this outline will concentrate only on Phytophthora cinnamomi.

Infection often results in the death of the plant, with earlier symptoms including wilting, yellowing and retention of dried foliage and darkening of young feeder roots and occasionally the larger roots. Phytophthora cinnamomi requires moist soil conditions and warm temperatures to be active, but damage caused by the disease most often occurs in summer when plants are drought stressed. The plant is unable to adequately absorb enough water from the soil because its roots are damaged and consequently may die. Small swimming zoospores are released which attach to and infect roots, normally behind the root tip. All spores and structures of Phytophthora are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. There is no way of visually telling if the pathogen is present in the soil.

After infection Phytophthora grows through the root destroying the tissue which is then unable to absorb water and nutrients. Further zoospores are produced in sporangia, particularly when the soil is moist and warm, and are released into the soil. Consequently zoospore numbers can build up quite rapidly. Zoospores move in water and may infect neighbouring plants especially those down slope from a site of infection. These spores are easily transported in storm water, drainage water, contaminated soil and on tools, footwear and vehicles. A further two spore types may be produced, a chlamydospore and an oospore, which are survival structures produced when conditions become unfavourable such as when a food source is exhausted or in periods of low temperature or drought. These spores are capable of surviving for extended periods of time, and when conditions become favourable they germinate and renew the life cycle. This allows Phytophthora to survive in dead plant tissue and in the soil for extended periods.

At present there is no one simple method for controlling Phytophthora cinnamomi. A combination of sanitation measures, good horticultural management, selective use of some fungicides and the addition of organic matter to soils can be used to retard the activity of Phytophthora.

Prevention Measures

Nursery: All plants should, wherever possible, be grown in soil mixes which have been correctly steam-air pasteurised (30 minutes at 60ºC). If it is not possible to pasteurise mixes make sure that the mix components are disease free. Ensure that the potting mix is not subsequently contaminated. eg. by water draining into soil bins in heavy rain or by careless handling with implements. Plants brought into nurseries from outside sources should ideally be propagated by cuttings to prevent the importation of Phytophthora (and many other disease and insect pests), or quarantined. All previously used pots and containers should be free of soil prior to use and sterilised by soaking in a solution of a disinfectant/detergent compound. It is essential to remove soil by washing prior to soaking in order to achieve maximum kill of the pathogen. It is also important to wash implements (cutting knives, secateurs etc.) regularly to remove any possibility of transferring the fungus from one plant to another. Avoid bringing contaminated soil on boots and equipment into the nursery areas. Phytophthora cinnamomi can survive in very small quantities of soil for long periods of time so nursery sanitation is very important. All plants should preferably be grown on raised wire-mesh bench at least 30 cm off the ground; this minimises water splash, which may possibly contain the fungal spores, from the ground onto the plants. If this cannot be achieved plants should be grown on free draining blue metal. Keep the whole nursery area clean and free of dead plant material and refuse. Soil mixes should permit free drainage; a potting mix which allows air into 15% of air spaces after watering is recommended. If a plant becomes infected, or is suspected of being infected, if possible it should be carefully examined (without contaminating other plants) for symptoms such as darkening of young rootlets. Infected and dead plants should be removed and disposed of carefully. Burning the infected plant or disposal in garbage are the most satisfactory methods of disposal. Infested potting soil should be carefully disposed.

Garden plantings

Hygiene: Sanitation of tools, machinery and boots is probably the most effective means by which the spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi can be limited. Spades and other tools should always be washed free of soil before and between plantings. In addition, tools should be regularly drenched in a solution of detergent or disinfectant. A large drum containing this solution should be placed in a convenient place in the depot and tools should be regularly brought back, washed to remove soil and drenched. The more frequently this is done the better the control of any soilborne diseases, particularly Phytophthora, will be. In situations where you are planting a number of plants take a container of disinfectant with you and disinfect tools between replanting. Boots and tyres are also an important means by which Phytophthora may be transported, as soil containing the fungus may cling to the boot or tyre. Wherever possible remove soil from boots and tyres and limit the movement of soil and the fungus. Vehicles should move towards known infected areas and be washed down after working in these areas before use in clean areas. It may not always be feasible to remove all soil, however limiting the movement of large amounts of soil by washing off with water will suffice in most situations. Sanitation procedures may seem time consuming and annoying, but prevention and limitation of a disease such as Phytophthora is the most effective means of disease control.

Soil preparation: Regardless of whether the pathogen is present in a soil it is important to add quantities of organic matter such as mulches, manures and composted material to the area (if this is appropriate to the plant species). These components increase the level of soil micro-organisms, such as fungi (eg. Trichoderma), actinomycetes and bacteria, which suppress the activity of Phytophthora and retard disease development. Mulches also minimise the contact between soil and footwear so that there is less potential for the transport of soil. Maintain nutrient levels so that root growth is promoted, but however do not use inappropriate nutrient mixtures that may be deleterious to the plant (ie. take care with phosphate sensitive plants). If possible, plant in holes sufficiently large enough to promote rapid root growth, this combined with good nutrition will allow the plant to compensate for any root damage caused by pathogens. Never use techniques such as post-hole diggers to prepare planting holes as these techniques result in poor drainage, thus enhancing disease development, and may aid in the spread of the pathogen. Ensure that drainage is adequate to prevent water logging, which promotes disease incidence and severity. All run-off water from known infected sites should be contained and directed to the storm water channels. Remember that water can very easily transport the swimming zoospores of Phytophthora cinnamomi.

Prevention and caring of infected plants: Fungicides containing potassium phosphonate are registered for control of this disease in certain situations. Information on these fungicides can be obtained from your local nursery or on the websites of the manufacturers. It is however important to ensure that application occurs when the plant can be expected to be actively exporting from the leaves to the root system ie. in summer (once in early summer and then 4-5 weeks later), so that the chemical is transported to the roots where it is required. Plants should be sprayed for quite a wide area around the infected site. If you have to move or replant material never move a plant from an infected site to an uninfected site. If the species is required in these circumstances, repropagate by cuttings. As in the case of initial plantings, the preparation of the site, the addition of organic matter and the attention to drainage are all essential when replanting material. When removing plants it is essential to remove as much of the tissue, including roots, as possible. The pathogen may persist in dead tissue for many years. Dead roots and any pruned material should be disposed of carefully. Do not replant in the same plant hole; where possible plant away from the dead plant, preferably upslope as plants downslope from any site of infection will be at greatest risk from the disease. Remember that unassisted movement of Phytophthora up a slope is very slow, while downward movement may be quite rapid.


 

fact-sheet

PDDU logo

Plant Disease Diagnostic Unit
Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust
Mrs Macquaries Rd
Sydney NSW 2000
Telephone: (02) 9231 8186
Facsimile: (02) 9241 1135
Email: pddu@rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

5. Managing Phytophthora Dieback

Use this site to obtain information on how to manage Phytophthora Dieback

  • In home gardens
  • In nurseries
  • In natural areas

Preventing and Managing Phytophthora Dieback in home gardens

Remember good hygiene practices are essential to keeping Phytophthora Dieback out of your garden and reducing its spread.

The brochure Facts about Phytophthora explains what Phytophthora is, how it is spread and how it affects plants and the Factsheet provides details on how to prevent its spread and caring for infected plants in your home garden. Although you can treat infected plants, infection is permanent, so you must be prepared to maintain strict hygiene practices once you have identified Phytophthora Dieback in your garden. You can treat you plants to improve their resistance and help maintain their health but you are unlikely to get rid of the disease once a plant has become infected. The Factsheet will assist you with how to protect and treat you garden plants.

Developing and implementing management plans for Phytophthora Dieback in Nurseries

As with home gardens, good hygiene practices are essential to keeping Phytophthora Dieback out of your nursery and reducing its spread.

Use the information in the brochures Facts about Phytophthora which explains what Phytophthora is, how it is spread and how it affects plants and Factsheet which provides details on how to prevent its spread and caring for infected plants in your home garden and nursery as an introduction to Phytophthora Dieback and its management.

Phytophthora Dieback kills plants and infection is permanent & management objectives are

  • Keeping it out
  • Limiting the spread and
  • Reducing the impact, using
    • Hygiene
    • Quarantine and
    • Treatment or destruction of infected plants.

The five strategies approach developed to manage Phytophthora Dieback in your bushland is equally applicable to managing the disease in the nursery. The main difference is that it’s much easier to manage in a nursery as you have so much more control of plant health.  Infection is permanent, so destroy any infected stock and prevent contamination by using good hygiene practices.

The five strategies are

  1. Understand Phytophthora Dieback
  2. Assess for risk of disease
  3. Adjust work practices to reflect risk
  4. Inform all staff, contractors and visitors and 
  5. Treat infections.

These five steps are explained in our brochure, and more details can be found below.

More details on each of these steps are available in Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Biodiversity Conservation in Australia, a document prepared for the Department of Environment and Heritage in 2006. More information about this document can be found in the References, links & further information section.

Developing and implementing management plans for Phytophthora Dieback in Natural Areas

The five strategies approach has been developed to manage Phytophthora Dieback in natural areas and is explained in our brochure. Use this strategy to understand the steps required to manage Phytophthora Dieback and the reference section for more details.

The five strategies are

  1. Understand Phytophthora Dieback
  2. Assess for risk of disease
  3. Adjust work practices to reflect risk
  4. Inform all staff, contractors and visitors and 
  5. Treat infections.

More details of the five strategies are provided below and further details are available in Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Biodiversity Conservation in Australia, a document prepared for the Department of Environment and Heritage in 2006. More information about this document can be found in the References, links & further information section.

1. Understand Phytophthora Dieback

In order to manage successfully, you need to have a good understanding of what it is you are trying to manage. Because the disease Phytophthora Dieback is caused by a living organism, it’s important that you understand the requirements of this organism in order to manage it. 

Phytophthora Dieback, a plant disease caused by the water mould Phytophthora cinnamomi, occurs in most states of Australia and was once thought to be native to NSW. The findings from the study by Dr C. Howard show that the genetic variation is not greater than found elsewhere in Australia and that there is also a considerable imbalance of mating types, which indicate that Phytophthora cinnamomi is an introduced species in NSW.

The study did reveal that there is a greater amount of genotypic diversity in diseased areas in close proximity to urban areas, indicating that human activity is linked to higher genetic variation in Phytophthora cinnamomi. Disturbingly for land managers the study also revealed that different genotypes found in NSW vary in their pathogenicity on multiple hosts. Put simply, a species may be tolerant to one or more genotypes of Phytophthora cinnamomi but not all genotypes. So although Phytophthora cinnamomi may have been found in an area where there appears to be little effect on the plants present, this could change if a different genotype was introduced into an area. Reinfestation by a new genotype could devastate what appears to be a tolerant ecosystem or species.

Phytophthora Dieback kills plants and infection is permanent. So the only three objectives available are

  • Keeping it out
  • Limiting the spread and
  • Reducing the impact, using
    • Hygiene
    • Quarantine and
    • Treatment or destruction of infected plants.

Use the information in the brochure Facts about Phytophthora which explains what Phytophthora is, how it is spread and how it affects plants and the Factsheet which provides details on how to prevent its spread and caring for infected plants.

The Background Document for the Threat abatement plan disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi 2007 (PDF file 456 KB) complements the statutory National Threat Abatement Plan (TAP) and provides a wealth of information. The TAP outlines the actions proposed to abate the threat and addresses the statutory requirements of the document. The background document provides supporting information on matters such as the biology of the pathogen, its population dynamics, spread, diagnosis and impacts on biodiversity and management measures. Use this document for more detailed background to Phytophthora Dieback and measures available to manage the disease.

Another great resource is the document by E O’Gara, K Howard, and B Wilson & GE StJ Hardy (2005) Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Biodiversity Conservation in Australia. Appendix 1 in Part 2 of the document provides background information on the biology and epidemiology of P. cinnamomi. It provides a good description of the organism, what it looks like, its life-cycle, how it’s spread and rationale for current management approaches. Part 2 - Appendix 1 Phytophthora cinnamomi (PDF file 690 KB).

2. Assess for risk of disease

As outlined in the five strategies approach, once you understand the disease then you can assess your risk, looking at such things as your climate, vegetation, soil type, water movement across the landscape, levels of human activity, etc. The brochure explains how to take soil samples for laboratory analysis, which can be done at any laboratory that is set up for testing or contact the Plant Disease Diagnostic Unit at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney for information and pricing at pddu@rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au or 02) 9231 8186. 

A great resource is the document by E O’Gara, K Howard, B Wilson & GE StJ Hardy (2005) Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Biodiversity Conservation in Australia which has four parts including National Best Practice Guidelines and two parts dealing with risk assessment; Part 3 - Risk Assessment for Threats to Ecosystems, Species and Communities: A Review (PDF file 1.9 MB) and Part 4 - Risk Assessment Models for Species, Ecological Communities and Areas (PDF file 502 KB). The second document describes the models for assessing the risk of P. cinnamomi to biodiversity in Australia. These models were developed after a review of previous and current studies, unpublished information and expert opinion, in Part 3. Please refer to the recommendations presented in the beginning of the document before using the models. 

All the sections of the document are available on the Commonwealth Government environment website and a detailed outline of the document is in the References & Links section below.

3. Adjust work practices to reflect risk

Managing Phytophthora Dieback - Guidelines for Local Government (PDF file 788 KB), prepared by the Dieback Working Group in Western Australia (2000) is a great document to assist land managers, particularly Local Government managers, to develop Phytophthora Dieback Management Procedures.

Look at other great documents that have been developed by other organisations within Australia to assist in developing Best Practice Guidelines for the Management of Phytophthora Dieback in your area. 

There are National Best Practice Guidelines available on the Commonwealth Government environment website (see detailed outline of documents in the References & Links section), provides both background information, models and tools for assessment, planning and  management along with practical advice on such things as developing a range of things like signage and hygiene solutions.
 
Examples of some of the hygiene solutions for vehicles and people from Appendix 2 of the National Guidelines are shown in the photos.

carwash
hygiene-kit

foot-bath

The automatic wash-down facility at the entrance to Alcoa’s Huntly bauxite mine in the south-west of Western Australia, designed to remove soil from trucks and light vehicles entering the mine, thus minimising the probability of introducing Phytophthora cinnamomi to the predominantly disease-free site. Photo: E O’Gara A hygiene kit, containing equipment and information to facilitate the cleaning and disinfection of footwear, small tools and equipment against Phytophthora. The Department for Environment and Heritage in South Australia actively promotes the assembly and use of such kits amongst stakeholders. Photo: R Velzeboer, Department for Environment and Heritage in South Australia The Anakie Scrubber footwear cleaning station consists of a metal ramp and disinfectant bath with an immersion plate for the cleaning of footwear prior entering uninfested areas. Photo: D Peters, Parks Victoria

4. Inform all staff, contractors and visitors

Develop material and protocols to inform all your staff, visitors and particularly contractors to your site on the ways that Phytophthora Dieback is being managed.  Only with everyone’s help and cooperation will you be able to manage the risk.

5. Treat infections

The document developed by the Commonwealth by O’Gara et al., as mentioned above, is a great resource here too. 

phytophthora poster

 

6. Recreation in Natural Areas

Phytophthora (pronounced fy-TOFF-thora) is a devastating plant killer causing Phytophthora Dieback disease and infection is permanent. It is a soil borne water mould which spreads naturally in water or roots. It is spread much faster and further by humans moving even small amounts of contaminated soil or plant material. So when you’re in the bush please take care not to spread this devastating plant disease. 

How to stop the spread: are you a carrier?

This leaflet explains how Phytophthora Dieback is spread and the simple actions required to halt the spread.

Good hygiene practices are essential: start out clean and stay clean. This is much easier if you stick to paths or roads and avoid wet areas.

An easy and effective method to clean your shoes, bike tyres and any gear that touches the ground is to use a spray bottle with 70% methylated spirits.

  • In a 1 litre spray bottle, these are widely available; carefully pour 700 ml of methylated spirits. 
  • Using a funnel makes it a much safer job. Then fill to top with water, replace spray nozzle and shake the bottle gently to mix. 
  • Use a scrubbing brush or stick to get dirt and mud out of the treads of your boots or wheels,
    then spray with the 70% methylated spirits.

Others have also developed great informational material too. For example, the Sydney Harbour Foundation Trust in NSW, or in other states, such as WA Dieback Working Group: Managing Phytophthora Dieback in Bushland.

If you’re part of a walking/adventuring group, it would be great if hygiene for plant & animal health was discussed before each field activity along with the obligatory reminders for human health on sun care, water intake etc. 

There are a number of sites with great material developed by other states in Australia, such as the Western Australian Project Dieback site, which also includes hygiene information. There is also a detailed guide from WA, in Managing Phytophthora Dieback in Bushland A Guide for Landholders and Community Conservation Groups EDITION 4, 2008 Western Australia (PDF file 2.8 MB).

The National Parks Association journal Jan-Mar 11 (Vol. 55.1) has an article on page 20, which was written in response to our education program and using material for the leaflets and our website. Please feel free to use any of the material from our brochures for any of your clubs publications or websites.

The survey work done by the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney for the Hawkesbury-Nepean and Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authorities areas resulted in maps of presence being developed for those areas. The problem of course is that we can not tell you about areas we haven't surveyed, so the maps only give you part of the picture.  Zoe-Joy Newby is currently conducting a survey in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area which will result in a map and risk model for this area also being developed.

The best ways to stop the spread are

  • ensuring good hygiene
  • starting out clean and staying clean
  • sticking to tracks
  • avoiding muddy areas
  • definitely not going from known infested areas to unknown or sensitive, threatened or rare sp or community habitats.

Using Methylated Spirits (95% ethanol), mixed roughly 7 parts to 3 parts water is a good disinfectant for anything that will come in contact with the ground. Spray bottles are widely available and an easy way to apply the disinfectant. 

A good strong brush is great to get out soil that is deeply imbedded soil into boot treads and bike tyres. Once cleaned of mud & soil then spray with 70% alcohol.

Not only your shoes! Soil sticks on anything that touches the ground.

  • backpacks
  • walking sticks
  • tent pegs and of course
  • off-road bikes and car tyres
  • even clothing while you’re sitting!

So dust yourself off and discard any mud or soil as you go!

foot-cleaning

Phytophthora_flyer

 

7. References, links & furthur information for management

  • Commonwealth: National Threat Abatement Plan (TAP) 2001
  • Commonwealth: Draft of new National Threat Abatement Plan (TAP) 2007
  • Commonwealth: Background Document for the Threat Abatement Plan disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi 2007
  • Commonwealth: Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Biodiversity Conservation in Australia 2006
  • Commonwealth: Phytophthora root rot Invasive species fact sheet 2004
  • Commonwealth: Phytophthora cinnamomi disease - links to some publications, including Key Threatening Process
  • Australasian Plant Conservation, (2005) Special Issue on Pathogens and Plant Conservation: Volume 13 Number 4. Most of the articles in this volume are on Phytophthora in Australia.
  • International Union of Forest Research Organisations, Unit 7.02.09 - Phytophthora in forests and natural ecosystems

Commonwealth: National Threat Abatement Plan 2001

Commonwealth: Background Document for the Threat abatement plan disease in natural ecosystems caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi 2007

This background document complements the statutory Threat Abatement Plan (TAP). The TAP outlines the actions proposed to abate the threat and addresses the statutory requirements of the document. This background document provides supporting information on matters such as the biology of the pathogen, its population dynamics, spread, diagnosis and impacts on biodiversity and management measures.

Commonwealth: Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Biodiversity Conservation in Australia 2006
O’Gara E, Howard K, Wilson B, Hardy GEStJ (2005) Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Biodiversity Conservation in Australia: Part 2 - National Best Practice Guidelines. A report funded by the Commonwealth Government Department of the Environment and Heritage by the Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management, Murdoch University, Western Australia. A model of best practice was developed which encompasses all the components necessary for an informed and integrated approach to P. cinnamomi management, from strategic through to on-ground management. This document has two major components

  • to review current management approaches and identify benchmarks for best practice
  • the development of risk assessment criteria and a system for prioritising management of assets that are or could be threatened by P. cinnamomi.

The document is divided into 4 parts, and includes a number of appendices. Parts 1 & 2 deal with the first component identified above and Parts 3 & 4 with the second component.

  • Part 1 - A Review of Current Management (PDF file 2.7 MB), thoroughly reviews the approaches to P. cinnamomi management in Australia within the context of the best practice model.
  • Part 2 - National Best Practice Guidelines (PDF file 1.35 MB). The model for best practice management of P. cinnamomi for biodiversity conservation, developed in Part 1 is repeated in this document and the best current practices and processes identified in the review are presented in the context of the model. These are the first national best practice management guidelines developed in Australia for management of P. cinnamomi in natural ecosystems, and consequently recommendations on their use are provided. The management guidelines are divided into two sections

i) addressing best practice at the strategic/tactical level of management

ii) addressing the operational and on-ground management of P. cinnamomi

Critical success factors for management and discussions on the development of appropriate performance indicators are provided.

Australasian Plant Conservation, Special Issue on Pathogens and Plant Conservation: Volume 13 Number 4 March - May 2005

Australian Plant Conservation: Volume 13 Number 4, 2005. Most of the articles in this volume are on Phytophthora in Australia. 

International Union of Forest Research Organisations, Unit 7.02.09 - Phytophthora in forests and natural ecosystems

Howard CG, 2008. A contemporary study of the genetic variation of Phytophthora cinnamomi recovered from natural ecosystems of New South Wales. PhD Thesis, University of Sydney.

McDougall KL & Summerell BA, 2003.  The impact of Phytophthora cinnamomi on the flora and vegetation of New South Wales - a re-appraisal. In Phytophthora in Forests and Natural Ecosystems. 2nd International IUFRO Working Party 7.02.09 Meeting, Albany, Western Australia, October 2001. Eds. JA McComb, GE St J Hardy and IC Tommerup; pages 49-56. (Murdoch University Print: Murdoch, Western Australia).

McDougall KL, Summerell BA, Coburn D and Newton M, 2003. Phytophthora cinnamomi causing disease in subalpine vegetation in New South Wales. Australasian Plant Pathology 32: 113-115.

Summerell B, Pongpisutta R & Howard C, 2005.  The biology of Phytophthora cinnamomi, Australasian Plant Conservation 13(4). More

Walsh J, Keith D, McDougall K, Summerell B & Whelan R, 2006.  Phytophthora Root Rot: assessing he potential treat to Australia’s oldest national park, Ecological Management & Restoration 7(1): 55-60. More.

Walsh J, McDougall KL, Whelan R and Summerell BA, 2003. The distribution and impact of Phytophthora cinnamomi in Royal National Park, New South Wales. In Phytophthora in Forests and Natural Ecosystems. 2nd International IUFRO Working Party 7.02.09 Meeting, Albany, Western Australia, October 2001. Eds. JA McComb, GEStJ Hardy and IC Tommerup; pages 280-281. (Murdoch University Print: Murdoch, Western Australia).

Documents from the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority Area project

  • Suddaby T & Liew E, 2008.  Best Practice Management Guidelines for Phytophthora cinnamomi in the Sydney Metropolitan CMA (PDF file 1 MB)
  • Suddaby T, 2008. Survey locations of Phytophthora cinnamomi within the Sydney Metropolitan CMA (PDF file 1.2 MB)
  • Suddaby T, 2008. Survey of the distribution of Phytophthora cinnamomi in bushland of the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority (PDF file 620 KB)
  • Suddaby T, 2008. The susceptibility of selected NSW plant species to Phytophthora cinnamomi (PDF file 517 KB)

Documents from the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority Area project

  • Suddaby T & Liew E, 2008. Best Practice Management Guidelines for Phytophthora cinnamomi within the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority Area. (33 pp. - 516 KB MSWord document)
  • Suddaby T & Liew E, 2008. Phytophthora cinnamomi in the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority Area (Map PDF file 1 MB)
  • Suddaby T, 2008. Susceptibility of selected NSW plant species to Phytophthora cinnamomi (11 pp. - 398 KB MSWord document)
  • Suddaby T, 2008. Survey of the distribution of Phytophthora cinnamomi in bushland of the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority Area (11 pp. - 663 KB MSWord document)

'Dieback caused by the root-rot fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi' is listed as a 'key threatening process' in Schedule X to the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Commonwealth has developed a Threat Abatement Plan, a Background Document, with lots of supporting information including management of Phytophthora cinnamomi, and a manual Management of Phytophthora cinnamomi for Plant Conservation in Australia. Links to these and other documents are below. 

In New South Wales, on 13 December 2002 infection of native plants by Phytophthora cinnamomi was listed as a Key Threatening Process in Schedule 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

Prior to developing a Threat Abatement Plan for Phytophthora cinnamomi in NSW the NSW Phytophthora Working Group have developed a Statement of Intent which identifies a number of priority actions for this key threatening process. Priority actions are the specific, practical things that must be done to tackle a key threatening process. They have been grouped into 14 overarching threat abatement strategies.

The approved ‘NSW Statement of Intent 1: infection of native plants by Phytophthora cinnamomi’ is available as a PDF file 835 KB). 

Project Dieback Blue Mountains World Heritage, 2009

Zoe-Joy Newby, is a PhD student at the University of Sydney based at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Zoe-Joy’s project is to better understand the role of Phytophthora in vegetation dieback in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) and to facilitate better-informed policy and decision-making and risk management by assessing the level of threat that this pathogen is posing to the GBMWHA.  A map and risk model will be developed as a tool to assess the level of threat and being expressed on a spatial level it will assist in assigning priority to disease management and enable monitoring to assess effectiveness of management. 

Environmental Trust - in 2010 provided an Education Dissemination Grant to the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, to develop educational material to raise the understanding of and reduce the spread of Phytophthora Dieback in NSW. See Phytophthora Dieback Education Project for details.

Further advice

As all spores and structures of Phytophthora are microscopic, only laboratory analysis of soil is definitive.

Brochures

foot-cleaning