What is Phytophthora Dieback.

Phytophthora Dieback is a plant disease caused by a group of microscopic soil-borne water moulds in the genus Phytophthora.

Phytophthoras can infect and rot the roots of susceptible plants so they cannot effectively uptake water and nutrients. This contributes to them “Dying-back”. Phytophthora means ‘plant destroyer’ in ancient Greek.

The greatest plant disease threat to biodiversity conservation (DPaW, 2015).

Phytophthora Dieback threatens biodiversity, placing important flora and fauna species at risk of death or extinction.

We are very concerned about how many plant species it can kill. Approximately 40% of the entire flora in the South West Botanical Province (an International Biodiversity Hotspot!) are susceptible.

This literally means thousands of plants are threatened and the flow-on negative impacts of this disease can be severe affecting ecosystem health, biodiversity, fauna habitat, amenity; and increased costs for government, industries and landholders to mitigate it.

Phytophthoras can spread easily when their spores in soil, water or organic material are carried on unclean vehicles, equipment and footwear and deposited elsewhere. They also spread between plants via root-root contact.

Therefore, integrated management is considered best practice. This can involve various actions to prevent disease spread such as risk assessments, mapping disease distribution, modifying drainage design, quarantining areas, applying stringent biosecurity-hygiene protocols, raising stakeholder awareness and Green Card training.

Western Australia’s biodiversity is unique and invaluable for current and future generations.

Further research on the Phytophthora pathogen and efficacy of mitigation options is essential. To date there has been excellent collaboration between all tiers of the Australian government, not-for-profit associations, affected industries and communities. But more work is needed to integrate policies and innovative science into practical management that is made accessible to all land managers and public.

You can help STOP its spread by Arriving Clean and Leaving Clean.

Bruno Rikli  (BSc, Director)