Rust Release
Tuesday, 01 June 2010 08:32
November 2009

Release of the Biocontrol Agent, Puccinia spegazzinii is now underway as provinces in Viti Levu are targeted. Rust has been released in the 9 provinces of the main island and releases in Vanua Levu and in the outer islands are expected to commence from next month. Though, many release sites have been targeted, the rust has not established in all sites and this often calls for re-releases to be made.The rust is exposed to a lot of other environmental factors such as insects, other weeds, developments and harsh weather conditions that may deter its establishment. It is therefore advisable to release them in large quantities rather than have only a few in lots of locations. This allows the population to build up before it spreads to other mikania plants. Sites are being closely monitored for the rusts’ spread rate and mikania growth rate.

Mass rearing in the lab

May 2009

The 3rd shipment of the pathogenic rust fungus Puccinia spegazzinii is now being mass reared in the SPC quarantine laboratory in Suva.The rust is already under going its third generation which have started appearing on leaves and stems of inoculated plants.Inoculations are carried out in a chamber where the basidiospores are able to infect the meristematic tissues under high humidity in the presence of free water. The set up is left in the chamber for a period of 24hr.Regular monitoring of the selected sites for release will be done to evaluate, not only its establishment and performance as a biological control for mikania, but also to make assessments of any unforeseen non-target effects.

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