Renowned Cereal Scientist Appointed; Researcher with International Experience Selected to Lead Plant Pathology Team

Article excerpt

IN a bid to find new ways of beating wheat and barley diseases, Queensland Primary Industries (QPI) has appointed a scientist with significant international experience to lead the QPI's winter cereal plant pathology team.

Minister for Primary IndustriesTim Mulherin said Stephen Neate is a principal plant pathologist and winter cereals plant pathology team leader.

"Dr Neate worked on plant diseases for 17 years at the CSIRO in Adelaide before taking up a research and teaching position for eight years at North Dakota State University, in the United States," the Minister said.

"He has led national research teams and working groups on plant diseases internationally and in Australia and his research has been published extensively in scientific and specialist journals around the world.

"He will be based at the Leslie Research Centre in Toowoomba, working on ways to protect Queensland's $2 billion field crop industries."Mr Mulherin said plant diseases were a major issue for the grain industry.

"They cost $50m a year for leaf diseases and $40m a year for root and crown diseases of wheat in Australia's northern cropping region, adding significantly to production costs," he said.

"Ten years ago $29 million was stripped in one season from Queensland's barley production and losses continue today.

"With this in mind, the project team is focused on finding solutions to the major plant diseases in Queensland.

"QPI plant pathologists have made a valuable contribution to the profitability and sustainability of Qld farms by improving the levels of resistance to a range of diseases in our crop varieties. …