Over the past three months, KVH has hosted British PhD student, Stuart Woodcock (pictured) from the John Innes Centre in England. Stuart has been in New Zealand undertaking a review of the research and development surrounding Psa during an internship as part of his PhD, which involves researching pseudomonas bacteria, particularly Psa and its ability to cause infection within plants.
Psa has been estimated to have cost over $1 billion to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry since 2010. Although productivity has recovered, Psa remains a prevalent threat as the majority of orchards harbour the bacteria, with only one kiwifruit growing region has yet to exhibit infection.
More recently, the use of other biological organisms to control Psa have also been trialled and included into a control programme. All these products are effective to various extents, but it has been found that some samples of Psa has developed low level resistance to some of the controls, which could potentially make them ineffective.
Working with representatives from KVH, Zespri, Plant and Food Research and growers, Stuart has reviewed past and ongoing research addressing the threat of Psa to New Zealand kiwifruit. He has also identified areas where research needs to be strengthened and highlighted new and novel areas which may be beneficial in combatting Psa.
Stuart said his time in New Zealand has proven to be extremely valuable in his studies and continual learning development.
“It has been great to get out and about in various parts of the country to see how orchards are managing Psa and talking to orchardists about their control methods,” he said.
“I’ve been working closely with KVH and Zespri over the past few months to really get into the complexities of Psa and I hope my review will be useful in the continued management of this invasive infection.”
KVH Chief Executive, Barry O’Neil, said he was looking forward to further investigating the findings of the review.
“It has been fantastic to have someone with Stuart’s depth of knowledge working with us at KVH. He has identified some key areas of past research which can look to be strengthened in time and also highlighted some innovative ways which could potentially help with the ongoing Psa management.”
“Stuart’s review is part of the continuing research and development KVH delivers annually in collaboration with Zespri,” he said.