Owen Hembry

Business news editor of the New Zealand Herald

Relief for kiwifruit industry

Bacterial disease threatening kiwifruit industry not as widespread as thought, says Seeka Kiwifruit Industries. Photo / Supplied
Bacterial disease threatening kiwifruit industry not as widespread as thought, says Seeka Kiwifruit Industries. Photo / Supplied

The bacterial disease threatening the kiwifruit industry is not as widespread as thought, says listed company Seeka Kiwifruit Industries.

Seeka said research conducted at Otago University under the TaskForce Green Network - a commercially funded research initiative by Seeka and EastPak - had shown that one of the two strains of Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae (Psa) thought to be in New Zealand was only distantly related to the disease and was not a danger to the industry.

It had been thought there were two strains of the disease in New Zealand - one a virulent type restricted to the Bay of Plenty and another which was also in Hawkes Bay, Golden Bay and Motueka. Researchers had found differences in the genomic make-up of the two strains and believed there was now only one strain in the country - the virulent type.

"As the Psa V [virulent strain] is still limited to the Bay of Plenty, it's still worth considering the possibility of completely eradicating the pathogen," Seeka said.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks said it was a stunning discovery which would help the industry develop a solution.

"Because we've got the genomic sequence just about done, the team should be able to focus on exactly what we've got to do to deal to it."

- NZ Herald

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