Phytophthora Contamination in a Nursery and Its Potential Dispersal into the Natural Environment

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Plant Disease, Volume 102, Issue 1, p.132 - 139 (2018)



A detailed site investigation of a eucalypt nursery suffering disease losses revealed the causal agent to be Phytophthora boodjera. The pathogen was detected in vegetation surrounding the nursery production area, including the lawn, under the production benches during the growing season, and, most importantly, from plant debris in used trays. However, it was not found in the container substrate, water supplies, or production equipment or on the workers themselves. The sterilization methods used by the nursery were shown to be ineffective, indicating that a more rigorous method was required. Boiling trays for 15 min or steaming at 65°C for 60 min eradicated P. boodjera. This pathogen was more pathogenic to the eucalypts tested in their early seedling stage than P. cinnamomi. Tracing of out-planting to revegetation sites showed that P. boodjera was able to spread into the environment. Dispersal via out-planting to native vegetation may affect seedling recruitment and drive long-term shifts in native plant species. Inadequate nursery hygiene increases the risk of an outbreak and can limit the success of biosecurity efforts as well as damage conservation efforts.