Phytophthora diseases in New Zealand forests

Publication Type:

Journal Article


New Zealand Journal of Forestry, Volume 59, Issue 2, p.14-21 (2014)



This article provides a brief overview of the status of Phytophthora diseases in New Zealand forests. Recent outbreaks of Phytophthora diseases internationally and within these forests, including Red Needle Cast of Pinus radiata caused by Phytophthora pluvialis and Agathis australis (kauri) dieback caused by Phytophthora taxon Agathis (PTA), have highlighted the biosecurity threat these species pose to New Zealand. In isolated cases, Red Needle Cast has impacted P. radiata plantations through the premature defoliation of mature needles. Kauri dieback, caused by Phytophthora taxon Agathis, has resulted in devastating disease within some sites. Preliminary research indicates that both these diseases will respond to treatment with phosphite, consistent with current international Phytophthora management. Ongoing research into Red Needle Cast, Phytophthora taxon Agathis induced kauri dieback and other Phytophthora diseases within P. radiata and kauri is focusing on understanding the epidemiology of the diseases, the chemical and genetic mechanisms of resistance, and also screening for durable resistance to multiple Phytophthora species. Many other Phytophthora pathogens have been identified within New Zealand. These have not been found to cause serious disease in native or exotic forest systems, despite some being known to cause diseases of great consequence internationally. Significant examples include P. cinnamomi, P. multivora and P. kernoviae. As a result of increased global movement of plant material, New Zealand’s and other international forests are vulnerable to new Phytophthora diseases. However, through the world’s best practice adaptive management the threat and impacts of these diseases can be reduced.