UQ Honours student Elizabeth Czislowski undertook research supported by the APPF
UQ Honours student Elizabeth Czislowski undertook research supported by the APPF

 

A University of Queensland (UQ) student project examining one of the greatest threats to worldwide banana production has received significant funding from a leading plant pathology society.

Ms Elizabeth Czislowski, an Honours student with the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences (SAFS), received financial support from the Advancing Plant Pathology Fund  - Australia (APPF) which was established by the Australasian Plant Pathology Society, together with significant funds from the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC)  for Plant Biosecurity.

The Fund provides scholarships to young scientists to support their education in plant pathology to increase the protection of agriculture, forestry and the environment from plant diseases.

Professor Eileen Scott, President of the Australasian Plant Pathology Society, said “The Society is very pleased with the outcomes of this first APPF-Australia award, in terms of the new knowledge generated, the close interactions with industry, and the professional development of a young scientist.”

“We are pleased to support training and innovative solutions to the problems which growers and producers face on a day-to-day basis and we are seeking donations to the fund to allow us to provide further scholarships” she said.

The CRC for Plant Biosecurity, which supports end-user driven research collaborations to address the major challenges facing Australia, also made a significant contribution to Ms Czislowski’s scholarship

“I am delighted to see that Elizabeth has completed her honours project and is continuing her education in the field,” said CRC CEO, Dr Michael Robinson.

Under the supervision of UQ’s Associate Professor Elizabeth Aitken, Ms Czislowski examined the soil-borne fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc) which  causes  Fusarium wilt,  a destructive disease of banana.

“Fusarium wilt is considered to be one of the greatest threats to banana production throughout the world, including in Australia,“ Ms Czislowski said.

“A new strain of Foc is currently threatening world production of bananas, and Cavendish, the cultivar that is now most popular with consumers, is susceptible to this new strain of Foc known as TR4 (Tropical Race 4).

By sequencing the putative pathogenicity TR4 genes, I was able to distinguish TR4 from other strains of Foc, which will enable more effective monitoring and quarantining of affected regions,” she said.

Ms Czislowski’s UQ supervisor, Associate Professor Aitken, is a plant pathology expert who currently undertakes extensive research into banana-Fusarium interactions supported by the Australian Banana Growers Council and Horticulture Australia Ltd.

Further information about how make a tax-deductible donation to the Advancing Plant Pathology Fund – Australia in order to support education in plant pathology research is available at http://www.appsnet.org/public/about/appfund.aspx

Media ContactDr Elizabeth Aitken, Associate Professor in Plant Pathology

tel +61 (0)7 3365 4775 email e.aitken@uq.edu.au

 

Photo: UQ Honours student Elizabeth Czislowski undertook research supported by the APPF

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