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More than 90 people, including many from New Zealand, gathered to discuss developments across the rapidly expanding field of Myrtle Rust research and conservation action. Indigenous representation and voice, from both Australia and New Zealand, was the highest of any Australian-based Myrtle Rust conference so far. The conference was followed by a two-day workshop on the screening potential for rust-tolerant genotypes in some of the most severely affected species, as a basis for reinforcing the declining populations. Conference attendee and guest speaker Dr Richard Sniezko (US Department of Agriculture Forest Service), who has a long history in breeding North American trees for disease resistance, has helped take this management option to a firmer level. Recordings from the conference will be available soon!

The next step is to produce a report on the outcomes and achievements of the Conference and workshop. This will help transfer awareness of current research and conservation practice between the countries and Australian states, and will feed into the Commonwealth’s development of a Threat Abatement Plan and parallel work in various states.

Image: Bob Makinson, ANPC Outreach Delegate and Myrtle Rust champion (left), with fellow rust warriors Peri Tobias from University of Sydney and Geoff Pegg from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, at the Australasian Myrtle Rust Conference last week in Sydney. Credit: Chantelle Doyle