Thursday, 1 October, 2015 - 08:12


Kauri leaves sprayed with phosphite, showing visible phytotoxic burn symptoms.


Scientists across ...

Friday, 28 August, 2015 - 14:59

 Photo credit: James Nyland, Australia"


Scientists from Plant & Food Research are working to protect New Zealand borders from future incursions of the Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) and support control of populations in areas of eastern Australia where it is a major pest of horticultural crops.


Monday, 25 May, 2015 - 10:04

A national science collaboration, Better Border Biosecurity (B3), that involves four New Zealand Crown Research Institutes and Lincoln University, will play a small but important part in showcasing the biosecurity expertise of scientists to gardeners of the world.

The world-famous Chelsea Flower Show (May 19-23) is hosting an exhibit called 'Beyond our borders' that highlights how sentinel trees are being used to detect plant pest and disease threats across the world through the International Plant Sentinel Network (IPSN) ( The IPSN is co-ordinated by Botanic Gardens Conservations International (BGCI), led by Fera and funded by the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs through the European Phytosanitary Research Coordination (EUPHRESCO).

Nigel Bell, B3 project leader for the sentinel plants project, and the AgResearch Soil Biology team leader, is the New Zealand co-ordinator for the IPSN. The developing network consists of contributing global organisations whose aim is to provide an early warning system for new and emerging pest and pathogen risks. In New Zealand B3 researchers from AgR, Scion, Plant and Food Research and Landcare Research are...

Tuesday, 19 May, 2015 - 10:45

The brown marmorated bug, which is not established in New Zealand, is of considerable concern (photo courtesy of MPI).

Scientists are working together with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and industry to limit the potential for a new pest to establish in New Zealand – the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB).

An Asian native, the stink bug – so called due to the unpleasant odour emitted when disturbed or crushed - has caused wide-spread issues in the US since it was first detected in 1998. New Zealand researchers, as part of the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) collaboration, are investigating the potential for the pest to establish in New Zealand and to assist with developing tools to protect our horticultural and cropping sectors from the risk.

BMSB attacks a broad range of plants, including fruit trees, ornamentals and field crops, damaging both plants and fruit. Potential impacts on our unique natural systems are unknown. In the US, numerous fruit growers have reported loss of more than 50% of their crops. In addition, the BMSB invades homes during the cooler months, with some people finding more than 12,000 BMSB in their houses over the winter.

Dr Barney...

Thursday, 5 March, 2015 - 14:04

Aotearoa New Zealand constantly faces threats from overseas to our economy, ecosystems and way of life. Myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii) is a fungal plant pathogen native to Brazil that has been spreading internationally and which has caused significant damage to Myrtaceous plants in the countries in which it is present. Its arrival in New Zealand is likely to be imminent given it has now been present in Australia and New Caledonia for several years and has caused damage to a range of significant susceptible hosts.

Plant & Food Research summer student Hone Ropata is researching the potential impacts of the pathogen for Māori, funded through the Better Border Biosecurity collaboration, so that New Zealand can be better prepared for its potential arrival.

"Because the fungus can be blown very long distances by the wind it may well cross the Tasman Sea at some point, or it might hitch a ride on a visitor’s clothing or outdoor equipment – or it could even already be here," says Hone.

Myrtle rust damages members of the Myrtle family and can even kill trees of highly susceptible species. "Plant growth is inhibited by the fungal growth on leaves reducing the ability...

Tuesday, 9 December, 2014 - 13:53

Ursula Torres received the "Resilience" award for her talk at the NZ Ecological Society Conference 16-20 November 2014, Palmerston North. Her talk was titled "The realized climatic niche of freshwater invertebrates: Are they stable?" Ursula also was awarded first prize at the Lincoln Post Graduate Conference in the Bio-Protection Research Centre Session, 7-8th July 2014, Lincoln University.

Ursula gained her BSc and two MSc (Hons) in Ecology and Modelling at Paul Sabatier University (Toulouse, France).After her MSc she worked on a European project (CAFNET) where she studied the impact of coffee management on cavity nesting birds in the Western Ghats (India). She then joined the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and worked on biotic interactions in saproxylic beetles. At the Bio-protection Research Centre, Ursula's work will be under the supervision of Sue Worner and is funded by the Erasmus Mundus NESSIE Project. Her PhD will focus on modelling global distributions and risk of establishment of invasive freshwater invertebrates.

Tuesday, 9 December, 2014 - 13:29

Kevin Chase, our University of Canterbury PhD student, won the "Best student talk (presentation) on understanding invasive species" award at the New Zealand Ecological Society conference held at Massey University in mid-November.

Kevin's talk was titled "Allee Effects and the Establishment of Exotic Invasive Bark Beetles". He is supervised by Ecki Brockerhoff (Scion/B3), Dave Kelly (School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury), and Sandy Liebhold (US Forest Service). Kevin receives a scholarship from Scion via contributions to the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) collaboration.

Friday, 15 August, 2014 - 15:50


On May 28-29, the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) collaboration celebrated its tenth birthday by hosting a national biosecurity conference in Wellington with the theme “Ten years on – Adding Value to New Zealand’s Plant Biosecurity System through Research”.  Bringing key researchers and end-users together for this conference provided an opportunity to review B3’s progress and major achievements, highlight key issues and challenges, and strengthen the relationships that underpin the effectiveness of this collaboration.  

The primary aim of this conference was to recognise ten years of government-funded border biosecurity research (including B3’s forerunner “Improved Biosecurity”), with an emphasis on the critical importance of research to New Zealand’s biosecurity system. The conference highlighted some of the significant outcomes that have arisen from the B3 research collaboration.  Additionally, the conference emphasized student participation in the B3 programme, which has bolstered future capability requirements for border biosecurity. 


Tuesday, 29 July, 2014 - 13:24

In May 2010, a species of butterfly never before recorded in New Zealand was discovered in a home garden near the Port of Nelson. The arrival of great white butterfly (Pieris brassicae) immediately raised concern because of its potential threat to commercial and home brassica crops, and to forage brassica crops that are used to feed livestock for New Zealand’s dairy and meat industries.  In addition, New Zealand has 79 species of native brassicas, many of which are very rare, that are threatened by the arrival of great white butterfly.

Great white butterfly was initially found close to the port, thus it might have arrived on imported shipping containers. It was expected to spread quickly beyond Nelson, both because it has been invasive elsewhere in the world and because a close relative, the cabbage white butterfly, also spread quickly and widely throughout New Zealand when it first arrived.  Great white butterfly is a well-known pest in Asia and Europe, where it is widely distributed, and it has invaded South Africa and Chile.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) immediately set up a monitoring project to track the butterfly’s spread which...

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014 - 10:59

In August 2013, B3 sponsored a visit by ‘luminary’ John Mumford, Professor of Natural Resource Management at Imperial College London, United Kingdom to continue B3’s association with the leading European biosecurity research project known as PRATIQUE (Pest Risk Assessment Techniques).

Professor Mumford’s research has covered many aspects of economic interest related to pest, food and biosecurity, including risk and economic analyses of exotic organisms, agricultural quarantine, invasive species and intentional releases/bioterrorism. He has also worked on risk analysis and economic analysis for novel technologies in pest control, such as the sterile insect technique and genetically modified insects.

During his visit to New Zealand, Professor Mumford participated in four events throughout the country. He says that these events highlighted that “a common issue facing biosecurity agencies everywhere is how to match uncertain management measures with uncertain pest challenges. It was good to see B3 stimulating interaction among the many...

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