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Exotic threats to sugarcane production in Australia

Robert Magarey: Sugar Research Australia

<div>Exotic pests and diseases pose a serious threat to Australia’s sugarcane industry. As an island continent, strict quarantine has limited the number and type of threats that have entered Australia. Recent research aims for industry pathologists to become familiar with, research and extend information on major threats; these include <em>Sesamia grisescens</em> (noctuid moth borer), <em>Scirpophaga excerptalis</em> (top borer), downy mildew (<em>Peronosclerospora</em> spp), sugarcane streak mosaic virus (SCSMV) and Ramu stunt. These pests and diseases all occur in countries close to northern Australia (Indonesia / Papua New Guinea). Research has investigated pathogen variability; both the Ramu stunt, SCSMV and downy mildew pathogens have shown significant variability with implications for both diagnosis and assessing cultivar resistance. Moth (stalk) borer research has investigated rapid methods for screening for cultivar resistance / tolerance. A shadehouse technique using clusters of plants with a central point of infestation is showing promise. The Australian sugarcane industry is taking all reasonable preventative measures to avoid catastrophic economic outcomes due to unexpected pest or disease incursions.</div>