Caroline Donald – DPI Victoria

Caroline Donald

Caroline Donald
Department of Primary Industries Victoria
Private Bag 15,
Ferntree Gully Delivery Centre,
VIC, 3156
Tel: 03 9210 9222
Fax: 03 9800 3521

DPI Vic logo






    • Brassica diseases, particularly clubroot
    • Potato diseases
    • Molecular diagnostics
    • Vegetable extension

In 2004, Caroline received the prestigous
Agricultural Industries:
Young Innovators and Scientists Award

VG 07125 Best practice IPM strategies for control of major soilborne diseases

The project team aim to develop and encourage adoption of effective IPM strategies for key soilborne pathogens including Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia and Sclerotinia in vegetable crops.

VG 07010 Enhancing the plant immune response for improved disease control

arabidopsisBoosting the plant immune response may soon provide long-lasting suppression of clubroot
and white blister in brassica vegetable crops.

Systemic aquired resistance (SAR) is a “whole-plant” resistance response similar to the immune response in animals and is important for plants to resist and recover from disease.

The research team have triggered resistance to clubroot in the brassica Arabidopsis.

Half of the treated plants did not show any symptoms of the disease … (see right)

Other studies show it is possible to initiate resistance to clubroot in broccoli seedlings.

Studies are continuing to confirm the nature of the aquired resistance and to optimise seedling treatment conditions.

VG 06092 IPM Gap Analysis for Vegetable Pathology

This 12-month scoping study identified short and long term priorities for vegetable IPM pathology.

The study included:

    • Review of background material – stocktake
    • National workshops for pathologists and crop consultants
    • agronomist and grower survey,
    • development of a strategic vegetable pathology R&D program.

The study reviewed current knowledge of vegetable pathology and prioritised gaps for future research..

A model for adoption of IPM in Australian conditions is also presented.

VG 04059 In-field clubroot diagnostic test

DNA-based forensic test for clubroot developed by VG 03022 was combined with with UK technology to produce a ‘pregnancy-style’
testing kit that can be used by growers or crop advisors in the field.

The test kit includes plastic test strips and an extraction solution costs about $10 and takes only three minutes.

Once growers have an idea of the clubroot status of their paddocks they can decide if they need to send samples in to a lab for a more detailed report.

The on-farm kit is based on antibodies and was developed in the UK, based on the clubroot DNA testing technology developed in Australia. The kit is still “in development” and is not yet being offered commercially.

VG 04014 ‘Better Brassicas’
a coordinated approach to applying brassica R&D

CLUBROOT is a devastating and persistent soil-borne disease which is particularly severe in older market garden areas.

Infection occurs on roots at any stage of growth. Symptoms are not obvious until the final stages, when plants are stunted and wilt, particularly in hot-dry weather, with characteristic galls and a single-clubbed taproot.

When the roots of infected plants decay, they release millions of spores into the soil, ready for another cycle.

Eleven Better Brassica Project workshops were conducted over five weeks, attracting 193 growers across Australia.

clubrootWorkshop participants received presentation packs containing:

  • fact sheets covering all aspects for managing clubroot and other brassica diseases
  • disease notes on white blister
  • newsletter articles on clubroot and white blister
  • a poster for packing sheds and offices.

Downloads :

Researchers have identified 12 common cruciferous weeds and 10 non-cruciferous
plants – including rape, kale, swede and mustard – which can `host’ clubroot,
often without showing the symptoms, and spread it to vegetable crops.

VG 03022 Improved soil test for clubroot

This laboratory test provides an estimate of the amount of the clubroot pathogen within 48 hours of a soil sample being received. This will enable growers to identify the clubroot risk and apply the most cost-effective control strategy.

Field testing conducted at 51 sites across Australia showed that clubroot DNA could not be reliably extracted from certain soils, despite its presence being confirmed.

The extraction procedure was modified to provide
a more robust and reliable diagnostic test.

VG 00044
Clubroot – Total crop management

Clubroot is the most serious disease of vegetable brassica crops..

In Australia it is estimated that clubroot is responsible for losses of 5-10% of the national crop.

This project, has addressed the short, medium and long-term needs of the brassica industry to manage this disease by developing management strategies that encompass whole production systems – seed – transplant – mature crop.

This has been achieved through:

  • Develop best practice prcedures to produce ‘clubroot free’ seedlings.
  • Action steps if clubroot is detected.
  • Integrated management strategies that are effective in across Australia.
  • A transplant machine that simultaneously incorporates clubroot treatments.
  • A molecular diagnostic tool to measure the amount of P. brassicae in soil.

Recommendations contained within this report will virtually eliminate clubroot as a problem in nurseries and provide Australian growers with the most advanced in-field methods to combat this disease.


Farm series:

1. Integrated
clubroot control
– Introduction

2. Disease
Detection and Prediction

3. Clubroot
– Farm hygiene

4. Managing
new and isolated outbreaks

5. Limes
and liming

6. Nutrient

7. Chemical
control of clubroot

8. Strategic

9. Strategic
– machinery design

10. Integrated control strategy
– implementation

Nursery series:

1. Sources of contamination

2. Design to reduce the risk

3. Restricting access

4. Clean equipment

5. Avoid contamination

6. Recognising clubroot

7. Responding to clubroot

VG 99008
A rapid diagnostic test for clubroot
(Faggian & Parsons, 2002)

Clubroot can survive in soil for up to 20 years, even without a host. This project developed an accurate test for clubroot to estimate the risk of disease prior to planting.

VG 99008 final report – extract

Other Work (DPI Victoria)

  • Ready reference guides for the crucifer industry
  • Integrated control of clubroot for quality export
    and domestic crucifers

  • Processing Potato R & D program
    Subprogram 3 – Soil amendments

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