Exotic plant disease threats to the New Zealand avocado industry and climatic suitability: a review

  • Kerry R. Everett Plant & Food Research
  • Brad Siebert New Zealand Avocado


The avocado industry was established in New Zealand from several importations dating back to 1907. Several serious pathogens found elsewhere in the world were not imported. A literature review and internet search were conducted to determine what serious avocado pathogens are not present in New Zealand and the potential impact they could have if they established. Relevant information was summarised for six pathogens determined to be the most serious of avocado and not known to be present in New Zealand: avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVd); Pseudocercospora purpurea (cercospora spot); Raffaelea lauricola (laurel wilt); Fusarium sp. (fusarium dieback); Phellinus noxius (brown root rot); and Sphaceloma perseae (avocado scab). Laurel wilt, brown root rot, cercospora spot and fusarium dieback could become established in New Zealand if the climate here becomes warmer but establishment of ASBVd and avocado scab (which are not restricted to hot climates) is more likely.


AllanHerbarium 2000. Nga Tipu o aotearoa- New Zealand Plant Names Database. http://nzflora.landcareresearch.co.nz/ (accessed 7 February 2018).

Ann P-J, Chang T-T, Ko W-H 2002. Phellinus noxius Brown Root Rot of fruit and ornamental trees in Taiwan. Plant Disease 86: 820–826. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS.2002.86.8.820

Ann PJ, Lee HL, Huang TC 1999. Brown Root Rot of 10 Species of Fruit Trees Caused by Phellinus noxius in Taiwan. Plant Disease 83: 746–750. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS.1999.83.8.746

Avila-Quezada GD, Teliz-Ortiz D, Mora-Aguilera G, Vaquera-Huerta H, Tijerina-Chavez L 2003. Spatial and temporal dynamic of scab (Sphaceloma perseae Jenk.) on avocado (Persea americana Mill.). Revista Mexicana de Fitopatologia 21: 152–160.

Bates CA, Fraedrich SW, Harrington TC, Cameron RS, Menard RD, Best GS 2013. First report of laurel wilt, caused by Raffaelea lauricola, on sassafras (Sassafras albidum) in Alabama. Plant Disease 97: 688. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-09-12-0866-PDN

Boesewinkel HJ 1982. A list of 142 new plant disease recordings from New Zealand and short notes on three diseases. Australasian Plant Pathology 11: 40–43. https://doi.org/10.1071/APP9820040

Brien RM 1939. A list of plant disease recorded in New Zealand. Bulletin of the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. 39 p.

CABI 2014a. Phellinus noxius. Crop Protection Compendium. Wallingford, UK, CAB International. www.cabi.org/cpc.

CABI 2014b. Avocado sunblotch viroid. CAB International. www.cabi.org/cpc, Wallingford, UK.

CABI 2014c. Raffaelea lauricola. Crop Protection Compendium. Wallingford, UK, CAB International. www.cabi.org/cpc.

Chupp C 1954. A monograph of the fungus genus Cercospora. published by the author, Ithaca, New York.

Crous PW, Braun U 2003. Mycosphaerella and its anamorphs. 1. Names published in Cercospora and Passalora: Mycosphaerella and its anamorphs. CBS Biodiversity Series No. 1. Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Utrecht, The Netherlands. 571 p.

da Graca JV, van Vuuren SP 1980. Transmission of avocado sunblotch disease to cinnamon. Plant Disease 64: 475. https://doi.org/10.1094/PD-64-475

da Graca JV, van Vuuren SP 1981. Host range studies on avocado sunblotch. Yearbook, South African Avocado Growers’ Association 4: 80.

da Graca JV, Mason TE, Antel HJ 1983. Effect of avocado sunblotch disease on fruit yield. South African Avocado Growers’ Association Yearbook 6: 86–87.

Dann E, Smith L, Pegg K, Grose M, Pegg G 2009. Report on Phellinus noxius, the cause of brown rot, in Australian avocados. Talking Avocados 20: 28–34.

Dann EK, Ploetz RC, Coates LM, Pegg KG 2013. Foliar, Fruit and Soilborne Diseases. In: Whiley AW, Schaffer B, Wolstenholme BN, Albert VA, Aluja M eds. The avocado: botany, production and uses. CABI, Wallingford. Pp. 380–422. https://doi.org/10.1079/9781845937010.0380

Darvas J 1982. Etiology and control of some avocado fruit diseases. DSc (Agric) thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. 136 p.

Darvas JM, Kotze JM 1987. Avocado fruit diseases and their control in South Africa. Yearbook, South African Avocado Growers’ Association 10: 117–119.

Desjardins PR, Saski PJ, Drake RJ 1987. Chemical inactivation of avocado sunblotch viroid on pruning and propagation tools. California Avocado Society Yearbook 71: 259–262.

Desjardins PR, Drake RJ, Atkins EL, Bergh BO 1979. Pollen transmission of avocado sunblotch virus experimentally demonstrated. California Agriculture 33: 14-–15.

Dodge C, Coolidge J, Cooperband M, Cosse A, Carrillo D, Stouthamer R 2017. Quercivorol as a lure for the polyphagous and Kuroshio shot hole borers, Euwallacea spp. nr. fornicatus (Coleoptera: Scolytinae), vectors of Fusarium dieback. Peerj 5. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3656

EPPO 2016. Avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBVDO). https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/ASBVD0/distribution (accessed 17 April 2018).

Eskalen A, Gonzalez A, Wang DH, Twizeyimana M, Mayorquin JS, Lynch SC 2012. First report of a Fusarium sp. and its vector Tea Shot Hole Borer (Euwallacea fornicatus) causing Fusarium dieback on avocado in California. Plant Disease 96: 1070. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-03-12-0276-PDN

Eskalen A, Stouthamer R, Lynch SC, Rugman-Jones PF, Twizeyimana M, Gonzalez A, Thibault T 2013. Host Range of Fusarium Dieback and Its Ambrosia Beetle (Coleoptera: Scolytinae) Vector in Southern California. Plant Disease 97: 938–951. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-11-12-1026-RE

Evans EA, Crane J, Hodges A, Osborne JL 2010. Potential economic impact of laurel wilt disease on the Florida avocado industry. HortTechnology 20: 23–-238.

Everett KR, Rees-George J, Pushparajah IPS, Manning MA, Fullerton RA 2011. Molecular Identification of Sphaceloma perseae (Avocado Scab) and its Absence in New Zealand. Journal of Phytopathology 159: 106–113. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0434.2010.01739.x

Fletcher WA 1976. Avocado growing in New Zealand. Orchardist of New Zealand 49: 220-228.

Formby JP 2014. Potential Range of Ambrosia Beetle based on temperature range. http://www.dontmovefirewood.org/potential-range-ambrosia-beetle-based-temperature-range.html (accessed 10 February 2018).

Fraedrich SW, Harrington TC, Rabaglia RJ, Ulyshen MD, Mayfield AE, III, Hanula JL, Eickwort JM, Miller DR 2008. A fungal symbiont of the redbay ambrosia beetle causes a lethal wilt in redbay and other Lauraceae in the southeastern United States. Plant Disease 92: 215–224. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-92-2-0215

Fraedrich SW, Harrington TC, Bates CA, Johnson J, Reid LS, Best GS, Leininger TD, Hawkins TS 2011. Susceptibility to laurel wilt and disease incidence in two rare plant species, pondberry and pondspice. Plant Disease 95: 1056–1062. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-11-10-0841

Freeman S, Protasov A, Sharon M, Mohotti K, Eliyahu M, Okon-Levy N, Maymon M, Mendel Z 2012a. Obligate feed requirement of Fusarium sp. nov., an avocado wilting agent, by the ambrosia beetle Euwallacea aff. fornicata. Symbiosis 58: 245–251. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13199-013-0222-6

Freeman S, Sharon M, Maymon M, Mendel Z, Protasov A, Aoki T, Eskalen A, O’Donnell K 2013. Fusarium euwallaceae sp nov.-a symbiotic fungus of Euwallacea sp., an invasive ambrosia beetle in Israel and California. Mycologia 105: 1595–1606. https://doi.org/10.3852/13-066

Freeman S, Protasov A, Wysoki M, Yehuda B, Noi M, Rabaglia R, O’Donnell K, Sharon M, Okon-Levy N, Zveibil A, Eliyahu M, Mendel Z 2012b. A pernicious agent affecting avocado in Israel: a novel symbiotic Fusarium sp. associated with the ambrosia beetle Euwallaceae fornicatus. Phytoparasitica 40: 258.

Green GA 1927. Notes on the avocado in New Zealand. California Avocado Association Yearbook 12: 39–40.

Harrington TC, Yun HY, Lu S, Goto H, Aghayeva DN, Fraedrich SW 2011. Isolations from the redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, confirm that the laurel wilt pathogen, Raffaelea lauricola, originated in Asia. Mycologia 103: 1028–1036. https://doi.org/10.3852/10-417

Hartill WFT 1987. Post-harvest rots of avocado in New Zealand. Australian Microbiologist 8: 154.

Hartill WFT 1991. Postharvest diseases of avocado fruits in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science 19: 297–304. https://doi.org/10.1080/01140671.1991.10421814

Hartill WFT, Sale PR, Sawden D 1991. Post-harvest rots of avocados and their control. Proceedings of the 44th New Zealand Weed and Pest Control Conference: 232-–236.

Helson GAH 1966. Importation of Nursery Stock. In McLintock AH ed An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/1966/quarantine-regulations-plants/page-3 (accessed 14 April 2018).

Homsky S 1995. The avocado industry in Israel- an overview. Alon Hanotea 49: 479–488.

HortPlus 2018. MetWatch Online. http://hortplus.metwatch.co.nz/ (accessed 10 April 2018).

Hughes M, Smith JA, Mayfield AE, III, Minno MC, Shin K 2011. First report of Laurel wilt disease caused by Raffaelea lauricola on pondspice in Florida. Plant Disease 95: 1588. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-06-11-0528

Hughes MA, Shin K, Eickwort J, Smith JA 2012. First report of laurel wilt disease caused by Raffaelea lauricola on silk bay in Florida. Plant Disease 96: 910–911. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-02-12-0149-PDN

Jenkins AE 1934. Sphaceloma perseae the cause of avocado scab. Journal of Agricultural Research 49: 859–869.

Kendra PE, Montgomery WS, Niogret J, Epsky ND 2013. An uncertain future for American Lauraceae: a lethal threat from redbay ambrosia beetle and laurel wilt disease (a review). American Journal of Plant Sciences 4: 727–738. https://doi.org/10.4236/ajps.2013.43A092

Koch FH, Smith WD 2008. Spatio-temporal analysis of Xyleborus glabratus (Coleoptera: Circulionidae: Scolytinae) invasion in Eastern U.S. forests. Environmental Entomology 37: 442–452. https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/37.2.442

Lynch SC, Twizeyimana M, Mayorquin JS, Wang DH, Na F, Kayim M, Kasson MT, Thu PQ, Bateman C, Rugmanjones P, Hulcr J, Stouthamer R, Eskalen A 2016. Identification, pathogenicity and abundance of Paracremonium pembeum sp nov and Graphium euwallaceae sp nov.-two newly discovered mycangial associates of the polyphagous shot hole borer (Euwallacea sp.) in California. Mycologia 108: 313–329. https://doi.org/10.3852/15-063

MAF 2014. New Zealand Standard: 152.02: Importation and clearance of fresh fruit and vegetables into New Zealand. 7 January 2014. http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/imports/plants/standards/152-02.htm (accessed 3 February 2018).

Marroquin-Pimentel F 1998. Factores que favorecen la incidencia de rona Sphaceloma perseae Jenk. en el cultivo del aguacate Persea americana Mill. variedad ‘Hass’, en tres regiones agrocliaticas de Michoacan, Mexico. Thesis, Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo, Mexico. 56 p.

Marroquin-Pimentel F 1999. Factores que favorecen la incidencia de rona (Sphaceloma perseae Jenk.) en el cultivo del aguacate (Persea americana Mill.) ‘Hass’, en tres regiones agroclimaticas de Michoacan, Mexico. Revista Chapingo Serie Horticultura Mexico 5: 309–312.

Marroquin-Pimentel F 2000. La Rona del Aguacate. In: Teliz-Ortiz D ed. El Agucate y su Manejo Integrado. Editorial Mundi Prensa, Mexico. Pp. 146–148.

Mayfield AE, III, Smith JA, Hughes M, Dreaden TJ 2008. First report of laurel wilt disease caused by a Raffaelea sp. on avocado in Florida. Plant Disease 92: 976. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-92-6-0976A

Mendel Z, Protasov A, Maoz Y, Maymon M, Miller G, Elazar M, Freeman S 2017. The role of Euwallacea nr. fornicatus (Coleoptera: Scolytinae) in the wilt syndrome of avocado trees in Israel. Phytoparasitica 45: 341–359. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12600-017-0598-6

Mendel Z, Protasov A, Sharon M, Zveibil A, Yehuda SB, O’Donnell K, Rabaglia R, Wysoki M, Freeman S 2012. An Asian ambrosia beetle Euwallacea fornicatus and its novel symbiotic fungus Fusarium sp. pose a serious threat to the Israeli avocado industry. Phytoparasitica 40: 235–238. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12600-012-0223-7

MPI 2014. Import Health Standard: 155.02.06: Importation of Nursery Stock. 27 January 2014. http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/imports/plants/standards/155-02-06.htm (accessed 3 February 2018).

MPI 2018. Import Health Standard: 155.02.05: Seeds for sowing. 22 February 2018. http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/imports/plants/standards/155-02-05.htm (accessed 10 April 2018).

O’Donnell K, Sink S, Libeskind-Hadas R, Hulcr J, Kasson MT, Ploetz RC, Konkol JL, Ploetz JN, Carrillo D, Campbell A, Duncan RE, Liyanage PNH, Eskalen A, Na F, Geiser DM, Bateman C, Freeman S, Mendel Z, Sharon M, Aoki T, Cosse AA, Rooney AP 2015. Discordant phylogenies suggest repeated host shifts in the Fusarium-Euwallacea ambrosia beetle mutualism. Fungal Genetics and Biology 82: 277–290. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fgb.2014.10.014

Paap T, de Beer ZW, Migliorini D, Nel WJ, Wingfield MJ 2018. The polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) and its fungal symbiont Fusarium euwallaceae: a new invasion in South Africa. Australasian Plant Pathology 47: 231–237. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13313-018-0545-0

Palmateer A 2006. Description of Disease: Avocado Scab. In: Evans EA ed Avocado Technical Assistance Curriculum. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Homestead. 77 p.

Pegg K, Coates L, Korsten L, Harding R 2002. Foliar, Fruit and Soilborne Diseases. In: Whiley A, Schaffer B, Wolstenholme B eds. The Avocado. Botany, Production and Uses. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK; New York. Pp. 299–338. https://doi.org/10.1079/9780851993577.0299

Pena JE, Carrillo D, Duncan RE, Capinera JL, Brar G, McLean S, Arpaia ML, Focht E, Smith JA, Hughes M, Kendra PE 2012. Susceptibility of Persea spp. and other Lauraceae to attack by redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae). Florida Entomologist 95: 783–787. https://doi.org/10.1653/024.095.0334

Perez MRV, Ortiz DT, Almaraz RD, Martinez JOL, Angel DN 2017. Avocado sunblotch viroid: Pest risk and potential impact in Mexico. Crop Protection 99: 118-127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cropro.2017.05.015

Pernezny K, Marlatt R 2007. Diseases of avocado in Florida. Bulletin Florida Cooperative Extension Service PP21: 3.

Peterson R, Grice K 1992. Cercospora spot of avocado. Proceedings of the Australian Avocado Growers’ Federation Conference.

Ploetz RC, Konkol J 2013. First report of gulf licaria, Licaria trianda, as a suscept of Laurel wilt. Plant Disease 97: 1248–1249. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-01-13-0027-PDN

Ploetz RC, Perez-Martinez JM, Smith JA, Hughes M, Dreaden TJ, Inch SA, Fu Y 2012. Responses of avocado to laurel wilt, caused by Raffaelea lauricola. Plant Pathology 61: 801–808. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3059.2011.02564.x

Pugh K, Thomson V 2009. Protecting our avocados. Biosecurity 93: 16–17.

Rabaglia RJ, Dole SA, Cognat AI 2006. Review of American Xyleborina (Coleoptera : Curculionidae : Scolytinae) occurring North of Mexico, with an illustrated key. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 99: 1034–1056. https://doi.org/10.1603/0013-8746(2006)99[1034:ROAXCC]2.0.CO;2

Smith JA, Mount L, Mayfield AE, III, Bates CA, Lamborn WA, Fraedrich SW 2009. First report of laurel wilt disease caused by Raffaelea lauricola on camphor in Florida and Georgia. Plant Disease 93: 198. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-93-2-0198B

Vidales F, Alcantar R, Anguiano C 1999. Modelos de prediccion de rona (Sphaceloma persea jenkins), del aguacate (Perseae americana Mill. cv. Hass) en Michoacan. Informe de investigacion en Aguacate. INIFAP, Campo Experimental Uruapan, CIR Pacifico Centro, Michoacan, Mexico. 14 p.

Wallace JM, Drake RJ 1962. A high rate of seed transmission of avocado sunblotch virus from symptomless trees and the origin of such trees. Phytopathology 52: 237.

White J 2001. The Avocado Industry in New Zealand. California Avocado Society Yearbook 85: 77–91.

Whiteside JO 1975. Biological characterisics of Elsinoe fawcettii pertaining to the epidemiology of sour orange scab. Phytopathology 65: 1170–1177. https://doi.org/10.1094/Phyto-65-1170

Zentmeyer G 1965. Avocado culture and avocado diseases in Australia and the South Pacific. Californian Avocado Yearbook 49: 19–26.
How to Cite
Everett, K., & Siebert, B. (2018). Exotic plant disease threats to the New Zealand avocado industry and climatic suitability: a review. New Zealand Plant Protection, 71, 25-38. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.30843/nzpp.2018.71.140
Vol 71 Pathogens 1 2018

Most read articles by the same author(s)