Herald Sun; NEWS.com.au
Plant-killing disease Myrtle rust is known as the foot and mouth disease of the plant world. It belongs to a group of fungi known as the ‘guava rust complex’. Myrtle rust can affect plants belonging to the family Myrtaceae, which includes many Australian native species including Eucalyptus.
AUSTRALIA'S floral emblem is under threat from a variety of plant-killing diseases incubating overseas, scientists say. Myrtle rust attacks the gum family of plants, or Myrtaceae, which include about 2500 species. Myrtle rust was detected in Victoria in January 2012, having taken less than two years to colonise the rest of the east coast of mainland Australia. It may prove to be one of the most calamitous environmental pests of the century...
The fungus that causes Myrtle rust has not been found before in Australia. This complex of diseases is native to South America and is also present in the United States of America (Florida and Hawaii) and Mexico. It is not known how this disease entered Australia, however, rust fungi produce microscopic spores which are easily carried by wind current, on people’s clothing, on plants or on goods that are shipped around the world.