‘Silent extinction’: myrtle rust fungus spreads to WA’s Kimberley
An invasive fungus attacking some of Australia’s most ecologically important tree species has spread to Western Australia while also flourishing in damp conditions along the country’s east, driving a “silent extinction” and prompting urgent calls for a national response.
Experts warn if the myrtle rust fungus detected in the east Kimberley reaches the state’s biodiversity-rich south-west, the consequences could be disastrous for those ecosystems.
Since being detected in a New South Wales nursery in 2010, the fungus – recognisable for its bright yellow spots and rusting on leaves – has established all along the east coast and been detected in every state except South Australia.
One 2021 study predicted myrtle rust could claim at least 16 rainforest plants within a generation in an extinction event of “unprecedented magnitude”.
The fungus …
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