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New Zealand mulls fungal biocontrol agent

The New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application to release the moth plant rust fungus (Puccinia araujiae) as a biological control agent against the invasive weed, moth plant (Araujia hortorum). The application was submitted by Northland Regional Council on behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective. Moth plant is a perennial herbaceous climber that can reach over 5 m and shades out low-growing vegetation.  Most regional councils require landowners to remove the weed from their property. If approved, P araujiae, would be the second biological control agent for use against the weed following the authorisation of the beetle, Colaspis argentinensis, in 2011. The beetle has not yet been released, but the two agents would be expected to work together to suppress the moth plant, the EPA notes. The application is open to public comment until October 7th.

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