27 Aug 2011

PSA cannot be eradicated, says kiwifruit group

1:54 pm on 27 August 2011

Kiwifruit Vine Health welcomes Otago University research that shows there is only one strain of the disease PSA in New Zealand, but general manager John Burke says that does not mean it can be eradicated.

Since it was first discovered on an orchard near Te Puke last November, growers and scientists thought there were two strains of the bacterial disease in New Zealand.

Genome sequencing by a team at Otago's biochemistry department has found the only true PSA strain is the virulent PSA V, which can kill vines and has now been found on 207 orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

Associate Professor Russell Poulter says the other strain, which has been renamed PSD, is found only in New Zealand. It is only distantly related to PSA V and won't cause any harm to kiwifruit vines.

He says because PSA V has still only been found in Bay of Plenty, there's a possibility of eradicating the disease.

The general manager of Kiwifruit Vine Health, the body responsible for overseeing a management plan to control PSA, John Burke, says the research confirms what has been suspected for some time, but eradication is not an option.

"It's something we'd like to achieve, but with a bacterial infection it's not really achievable. What we're really after is severe containment."

Mr Burke says on-orchard management, collective spraying, and biosecurity measures are some of the strategies that will enable growers to work out how to "live with the disease" in the long run.