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Cabbage tree researcher honoured

Cabbage tree researcher honoured

Respected Auckland scientist Dr Ross Beever will today be honoured as a Fellow of The Royal Society of New Zealand.

The Society elects 12 fellows to its prestigious science academy each year, and only a small number of those nominated are ultimately selected.

Dr Beever has made outstanding contributions to mycology, plant pathology, and New Zealand botany over 33 years of active research. His research has significantly advanced our knowledge of fungal genetics, fungal behaviour, the physiology of plant diseases, and the conservation of endangered plants.

In recent years he has perhaps been best known as leading the team that discovered the cause of Sudden Decline - the disease that has killed large numbers of our iconic native cabbage tree Cordyline australis, also known as ti kouka. Highly sensitive DNA techniques and electron microscopy found the culprit was flax yellow leaf phytoplasma (Phytoplasma australiense), an elusive bacterium that lives in plant sap and is transmitted by a sap-sucking insect. This discovery has also led to recognition of the same parasite in other plants including the native karamu (Coprosma robusta) and in strawberries.

Dr Beever has also developed methods to manage fungicide resistance in economically important fungi such as Botrytis that causes a major disease of crop plants including grapes and strawberries.

He is described by the Society as a skilled field observer with an extensive knowledge of native plants and fungi, and an inspiring leader of his younger colleagues.

The Fellowship will be conferred at a ceremony at Old Government House, corner of Princes St and Waterloo Quadrant, Auckland this afternoon, Thursday 8 September from 5pm until 6.30pm.


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