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Rights: © Copyright 2014. University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
Published 9 June 2014
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The New Zealand Seed Industry Alliance is a consortium of seed researchers and industry partners. Alliance members work together to ensure the survival of New Zealand’s seed industry and to explore opportunities for increasing seed exports. In this video clip, Professor John Hampton (Director, Bio-Protection Research Centre) and Dr Phil Rolston (Senior Scientist, AgResearch) explain that grass seed contains an endophyte fungus that is bioprotective, so it’s important that seed delivered to growers still contains the living fungus. They also describe an additional endophyte (a bacterium) that New Zealand Seed Industry Alliance partners have recently discovered. This bacterium acts as a biocontrol agent against diamondback moth.

Key questions

  • How does the newly discovered endophyte bacterium control diamondback moth populations?
  • Why might the discovery of a biocontrol agent for diamondback moth be of international importance?

Teaching points
Students can learn more about biocontrol by searching biocontrol resources here

Jargon alert
An endophyte is a bacterium or fungus that lives within a plant. Endophytes often provide benefits to the host, such as resistance to pathogens.

Transcript

Prof John Hampton
Really, New Zealand’s land-based industries, our pasture-based industries, rely on New Zealand seed, and it’s been estimated that the value of that seed to our dairy, beef and wool sector is around about 1 billion dollars per annum. The industry alliance is a collection of researchers in seeds and the industry partners in our research programmes who collectively are working together to ensure the survival of the seed industry and to take the opportunities we see existing particularly for increasing seed exports into the future.

Dr Phil Rolston
Seeds are a delivery vehicle for new plant genetics, and in the case of grass seed, the delivery vehicle of the endophyte fungus, which is a bioprotection fungus that lives in grass seed.

Prof John Hampton
The diamondback moth is a pest of both forage and vegetable brassicas, and its significance is that it is resistant to all insecticides internationally. What we have discovered is a further bacterium which is giving us very good control of this insect pest. The caterpillars of the pest eat, digest the bacterium as they feed and they are killed.

Dr Phil Rolston
As a researcher, we’ve had to work out how to help the seed industry deliver seed to the growers that still has a living endophyte in it and to work with the seed companies to show how they should store that seed and manage that seed after they receive it from the farmer through the delivery pipeline. So the increasing seed yields that our growers have been able to achieve with using this new technology, and the seed companies, has led to a doubling of grass seed exports, and now many European companies that were multiplying in Europe are coming to New Zealand to get companies like PGG Wrightsons to multiply seed to send back to Europe.

Acknowledgement
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013