Myrtle rust is a fungal disease impacting perennial trees of more than 450 species. Our previous study demonstrated that double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) reduced could inhibit myrtle rust infection physiology in vitro and in planta. We have now shown that dsRNA can be applied pre- and post-infection to prevent and cure myrtle rust at multiple points in the infection cycle. Curative dsRNA provides a new solution to the catastrophic, decade-long epidemic of myrtle rust in Australia, and has potential applications to treat other fungal diseases of long-lived perennial trees and crops. Beyond control measures, dsRNA-based assays have significant potential to study rust fungi and other obligate fungal pathogens where gene-editing techniques are not feasible.

PhD Candidate Rebecca Degnan

Rebecca Degnan (she/her) is a third year PhD candidate researching double stranded RNA-mediated control and exploration of Austropuccinia psidii (the causal agent of myrtle rust). She works collaboratively between the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Rebecca DegnanE: r.degnan@uq.edu.au

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Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation hosts science seminars across the disciplines of animal, horticulture, crop, food and nutritional sciences.

With a range of speakers from Australia and abroad, the series explores how high-impact science will significantly improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the tropical and sub-tropical food, fibre and agribusiness sectors.

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The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.


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