RIVERTON biologist Matthew Tan has travelled to Japan to study an emerging pine tree pest, thanks to grants from three separate organisations.
The Murdoch University PhD’s $4500 scholarship has taken him to Tsukuba and will enable him to learn how to collect samples of the pests from the trees as well as how to undertake molecular identification of pine wood nematode.
The nematode has a fascinating life-cycle which involves the pest hitching a ride on young pine beetles which transferred them from one tree to another.
The pest traditionally infects trees in Japan and China but has recently been found throughout Portugal and Spain.
“We believe it could only be a matter of time before they arrive on these shores, so we need to learn as much as we can about them,” Mr Tan said.
“The samples I will be collecting will help to address a real biosecurity issue.
“The Australian pine sawlog production industry is worth about $800 million a year so pine wood nematode is classed as an emergency plant pest that would have a serious economic impact if introduced into Australia.
“The visit will also provide me with a new perspective and ideas that I can apply to my own PhD studies.”