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Western Australia

WA

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Similar to its successful Mildew Mania program (http://mildewmania.com.au ), the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM) at Curtin University are starting up a new citizen science project based on Sclerotinia Stem Rot (SSR) of canola.

Background: Sclerotinia stem rot (SSR) is a fungal disease of canola causing direct damage to the canola plant by girdling the stem, leading to lodging. The current estimate of losses incurred by SSR is $20-30m per annum, making this the second most important fungal disease of any break crop. Much is not known about SSR in terms of the way it infects host plants, and the genetic diversity of Australian SSR isolates. To understand more about the disease in WA, scientists at the CCDM are keen to access isolates from across the state. As well as scientific outcomes, Canola Rot WAtch will provide the opportunity for WA schools to participate in “real” science research and provide teachers with an activity (and resources) that links to the Australian Curriculum.

Your role: Firstly you will be asked to facilitate a workshop (~2hrs end of April) at your school for the researchers to provide instructions to the class on the project. The actual project will require your class to grow canola (4m x 2m plot) over a period (May – October) whilst recording local weather conditions and looking for disease symptoms. You will be given resources and instructions to conduct petal tests to look for early SSR infection before stem leisions occur. You will be asked to take samples of any SSR infections, complete an “infection score sheet” and return all this to the CCDM. You will provided with an instruction booklet, seed, sampling equipment and equipment to record weather conditions.

Benefits for your class: Students are able to get hands-on experience and contribute to current scientific research, and increase their understanding about science and how it is applied by scientists to solve real-life problems.

Results: The results will be emailed to you in the form of a newsletter in late October.

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