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Australian biosecurity officer intersepts disease host plants

"Every rose has its thorn"

Biosecurity officers at the Sydney Gateway Facility recently intercepted a mail parcel with two live rooted rose plants, which are known hosts of Australia’s top plant disease threat.

Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Andrew Tongue, said importing plants carried a huge risk of plant diseases. “Roses are a host for Sudden oak death and Xylella fastidiosa, both of which could be absolutely devastating to Australia’s horticulture and ornamental industry, and our native species and forestry, if they were to ever establish here,” Mr. Tongue said.

“These rose plants were covered in potting mix and were covered in fungi and bacteria. This is also not the first time we have intercepted Xylella host plants through the mail, with live asparagales shrub plants and fig cuttings intercepted at Sydney Gateway Facility earlier this year. 

“There is no cure for Xylella. It is Australia’s number one priority plant disease risk and is a threat to many industries, including cherries, citrus, tree nuts, production nurseries, summer fruit, olives, and viticulture.

“Xylella has destroyed olive groves in Italy that are centuries old, and we know it infects hundreds of plant species in 98 plant families. The economic costs of Xylella to Europe have been estimated in the billions of Euros. In Australia, the potential economic impact to the wine industry alone has been estimated at $2.8 and $7.9 billion over 50 years. Not only does it attack commercial varieties of plants, but it’s also a serious threat to native plants and can cause disease in more than 500 different plant species." 

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