Human activities have had an adverse impact on ecosystems on a global scale
and have caused an unprecedented redispersal of organisms, with both plants and
pathogens moving from their regions of origin to other parts of the world.
Invasive plants are a potential threat to ecosystems globally, and their
management costs tens of billions of dollars per annum. Rubus anglocandicans
(European blackberry) is a serious invasive species in Australia. Herbicide and
cultural control methods are generally inefficient or require multiple
applications. Therefore, a biological control program using stem and leaf rust
strains is the main option in Australia. However, biological control using rusts
has been patchy, as host factors, climate, and weather can alter the impact of
the rust at different locations. In 2007, Yeoh and Fontanini noticed that
blackberry plants on the banks of the Donnelly and Warren rivers in the
southwest of Western Australia were dying in areas that were being regularly
monitored for the impact of rust as a biological control agent. The symptoms on
blackberry became known as the disease “blackberry decline”. Continuous and
intensive investigations are required to discover the different biotic and
abiotic components associated with specific declines in plant populations. The
only agent so far introduced to Australia for the biological control of
blackberry is the rust Phragmidium violaceum.
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