Texas root rot
Exotic to Australia
Features: Soil borne fungal disease that causes sudden wilt and death
in many plant species.
Where it’s from: Southwest USA, Mexico, Venezuela, and recently
reported in Libya, North Africa.
How it spreads: Importation of infected plants or soil; local spread
through infected plants and soil.
At risk: Thousands of plant species; cotton, grapes, fruit trees, forest
trees, alfalfa, cherry, grains, soybean, lucerne and ornamental plants.
Texas root rot causes patches of dead and dying plants, here in a cotton field.
Chris Anderson, NSW DPI.
Keep it out
Texas root rot, caused by the fungus Phymatotrichum omnivorum, is one of the most destructive fungal plant diseases. It is a soil-borne fungus that attacks the roots of plants, causing them to wilt and die, usually during the warmer months.
Texas root rot affects over 2000 species of plants including vegetable, fruit and broadacre crops. It is an important disease of cotton as well as grapes, fruit trees and many ornamental plants.
It is very difficult to control Texas root rot once it gets into fields or orchards because it penetrates deep into the soil and survives there for a long time. It has been known to lie dormant for decades, so that only other species that are resistant to the disease can be grown.
To keep Texas root rot out of Australia, never ignore Australia’s strict biosecurity rules.
Import shipments may need to be treated and certified, so before you import, check our Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON).
What to look for
- Plants wilting and dying, particularly during hot weather as the rotted roots are unable to take up enough water.
- The roots of infected plants will be covered with a network of white to tan fungal strands.
- In the field, look for patches of dead and dying plants, often with the dead leaves still attached. Patches may expand in a circular pattern during warm weather as the fungus spreads through the soil from plant to plant. You might see a spore mat on the soil around infected plants.
Where to look
Infected plants, plant material and soil are the most likely way that Texas root rot could make it to Australia.
Growers and home gardeners
Check plants or crops for wilting and root damage, particularly in summer. It affects agricultural crops like:
- grapes, especially Vitis vinifera varieties
- forest trees
- grain crops
- fruit trees
- ornamental plants
What to do
If you think you’ve found Texas root rot:
- take a photo
- do not disturb infected plants (this may be as simple as closing the doors on a shipping container or preventing access to a field).