Here's something you never want to find in a bag of potato crisps - a Zebra chip - identifiable by its striped appearance when cooked and unsavoury flavour.
Just one 15-minute session at the Tasmania Institute of Agriculture Scienc (TIA) Showcase today will have you up to speed with the latest research into the bacteria that causes the undesirable Zebra effect, and what is being done to keep its host, the tomato potato psyllid, from infiltrating local crops.
This emerging threat to the Tasmanian potato industry is the topic chosen by TIA Research Fellow Dr Robert Tegg to present at the Science Showcase, taking place on Tuesday, August 14, at the Tramsheds, Inveresk, in Launceston.
There are another 14 interesting topics, from improving the quality of pinot noir to assessing the capacity of farmers to adapt to climate change, that will be publicly presented as a sample of the wide range of research, industry development, extension and education that TIA is undertaking.
More than 100 people attended this event last year, and once again a large turnout, including producers, agronomists, industry representatives and university staff and students, is expected.
Dr Tegg said that he'll be talking about the danger posed by importing potatoes from NZ and what New Zealand's control measures are; about the importance of maintaining tight quarantine measures in Australia; and whether there's any chance our native psyllids are capable of carrying the Zebra chip bacteria.
"We have a monitoring project on Australia's East Coast, which is basically yellow sticky traps on a stick in various potato fields, that are designed to catch tomato potato psyllid if they blow in on winds from New Zealand so that we know when it arrives," Dr Tegg said.
"We are trying to make sure that the pest, which has caused crop losses of 10 to 40 per cent in New Zealand, stays away for as long as possible, giving TIA the best possible chance to develop ways to combat it and protect our potato industry."
The TIA Science Showcase is part of National Science Week (August 11-19) activities which includes visiting guest speakers, science shows, workshops and tours.
For more information on the TIA Science Showcase
Contact TIA Communications and Marketing Manager Liam Gash on +61 3 6226 6339, or email Liam.Gash@utas.edu.au
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