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20 Nov 2017

PlantClinic opens at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

The NSW Minister for Environment today opened a rejuvenation of one of Australia’s top plant disease research laboratories, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney’s ‘PlantClinic’.  

The opening of PlantClinic is part of the Garden’s strategy to showcase the world-class research and scientific work that has been taking place behind the scenes for more than 200 years.

Brand new equipment and an exciting interactive space will help raise the output and profile of the Garden’s plant pathology team, sharing its important work with the Garden’s five million annual visitors.

The PlantClinic scientists are global experts on introduced plant diseases such as Phytophthora dieback, a fungal disease that poses a significant threat to Australia.

The team also collaborates with international scientists working on the wilt diseases that are affecting a range of food, grain and fibre crops, including banana, watermelon, peas, cotton and vanilla.

“Plant disease research has been part of the work of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney for close to 30 years”, said Kim Ellis, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands.

There is an increasing need to focus on this research, with introduced diseases threatening native plants and food crops.”

The Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens raised $465,000 to fund the complete makeover of the facility, as well as the acquisition of a state of the art DNA robot that will dramatically improve the speed and accuracy of disease identification.

Previously tucked away from public view, PlantClinic has been skilfully incorporated into the Garden with new landscaping and interpretive panels explaining the history of plant disease, and the achievements of the laboratory.

Plant pathologists test, diagnose and treat the Garden’s sick plants, as well as servicing external stakeholders including the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, biosecurity agencies, nurseries, councils and gardeners,

Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands Executive Director Kim Ellis believes that visitors to PlantClinic will appreciate that the Garden is much more than a beautiful serene green space.

“Our scientists work on some of the biggest issues facing Australia, protecting food security and the natural environment by contributing to the world’s understanding of plant disease,” said Mr Ellis.

PlantClinic is accessible to visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney from Monday 20 November 2017. 
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