BSES: Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS) Update- July 2013

Summary

 $1million secured to conduct research into YCS
 Project team now formed and research commenced
 The trial established to determine whether YCS transmission occurs via planting material is showing no YCS Symptoms after 10 weeks
 Linear bugs unlikely to be a cause of YCS
 Sugar Cane Yellow Leaf Virus ruled out as a cause of YCS
 Phytoplasma ruled out as a cause of YCS

$1 million invested to fight Yellow Canopy Syndrome in sugarcane

BSES with the support of Burdekin Productivity Services (BPS) and Herbert Cane Productivity Services (HCPSL) has obtained close to $1 million dollars in funding to investigate Yellow Canopy Syndrome.

The project titled Solving the Yellow Canopy Syndrome will run initially for one year and has received a $500 000 commitment from the Sugar Research Development and Corporation (SRDC), $276 000 from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Queensland (DAFFQ) and $200 000 from BSES Limited.

The project will be run as a collaborative venture involving several key industry players and organisations that will contribute ongoing expertise and input. It will be led by Davey Olsen, a research agronomist based at the BSES Burdekin Experiment Station near Ayr. The large multidisciplinary and multiagency team will provide plant pathology, entomology, agronomy, molecular biology, remote sensing (QDAFF), GIS (HCPSL), statistics, and extension and communication capability.

Project team now together and research started

The project team met on the 4th of July to discuss the project and develop a plan forward.
Within the project there are four key research objectives:

 To deliver industry leadership around YCS and provide industry with a single point of contact
 To identify the conditions that lead to symptoms being expressed
 To identify the causal agent or agents responsible for YCS
 To develop initial strategies to minimise possible cane losses associated with the condition

The project is now underway with the first phase being the identification of 180 monitoring sites within the Herbert and Burdekin districts. Approximately three quarters of the sites have now been identified with the remaining waiting for late harvest blocks. The 90 sites within each district will be monitored regularly to track the development of the symptoms of YCS in two successive crops (plant crop and first ratoon, or a first and second ratoon) and will be used by the BSES researchers during this critical assessment stage.

Research Update

Since the identification of YCS, BSES scientists have investigated a range of possible casual agents.

Transmission via planting material trial
A trial was established by BSES research pathologist, Dr Rob Magarey, to investigate whether YCS transmission can occur via planting material. This trial is now entering its 10th week. Germination was reduced by 20% when the cane (planting material) showed severe symptoms. However, no effect occurred when the planting material had mild symptoms. Importantly, none of the treatments, including those using severely impacted planting material, are currently expressing YCS at this time. It should be noted that plants in this trail have been maintained under optimal conditions without stress. The next step in this trial is to impose stress on half of the plants in each treatment and to monitor their response.

Linear bug trial
Monitoring of the linear bug trial established by BSES Research Entomologist, Dr Nader Sallam’s suggests that linear bug damage does not lead to the development of YCS-like symptoms and that linear bugs are therefore unlikely to be a cause of YCS.

Molecular testing for known disease
A range of molecular diagnostic tests have been carried out on leaf material taken from fields showing YCS symptoms. These tests have conclusively dismissed Sugar Cane Yellow Leaf Virus and other phytoplasma as causes of YCS according to Dr Kathy Braithwaite (BSES, Indooroopilly).

Update/ more information
BSES Professional Extension and Communications (PEC) team will continue to provide regular updates of the project through the BSES website via annual reports, cane clips, media releases, bulletin articles and factsheets.

For further information go to the BSES website http://www.bses.com.au/

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