Dr Rob (Robert) Magarey

Principal Research Scientist, Sugar Research Australia

Rob has worked with the Australian sugarcane industry for over 40 years, researching many diseases; the development of appropriate management strategies has been the ultimate goal. His initial emphasis was on soil-borne diseases, including one caused by a previously undescribed Oomycete, Pachymetra chaunorhiza – a pathogen unique to Queensland cane-fields. He has since worked on diseases of bacterial, fungal, protozoan, and phytoplasma origin. Research projects have taken him on quarantine surveys around the northern Australian, Torres Strait and PNG coastlines, to identify potential pest and disease threats to Australia. He has led 8 international research projects involving PNG and Indonesian scientists, with a focus on the aetiology and management of pests and diseases. He has close links with scientists around the world and is a past-President of APPS.

Presentation: Dirt-boot pathology in an international setting: experiences to learn from and enjoy.

The paper addresses disease issues related to Rob’s Australian and overseas sugarcane experience. Difficulties associated with working locally and overseas will be discussed and the challenges facing those who use both traditional and advanced technologies. Disease epidemics have been part and parcel of the Australian sugarcane industry; research to minimise the scale of these events and their economic effects, will be outlined. Situations as diverse as developing assays based on household bleach, to applying DNA technology to sugarcane juice, to chartering flights to remote parts of PNG are the type of activities undertaken by a ‘dirt-boot’ sugarcane pathologist. Running into a pack of barking dogs in Thailand is a different story.


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