Australasian Plant Pathology

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 393–403 | Cite as

Systemic iron implants alleviate symptoms of Mundulla Yellows in roadside eucalypts in south east South Australia

  • N. L. Schultz
  • M. K. Good
Original Paper


Mundulla Yellows is a dieback disorder of trees (predominantly eucalypts) along roadsides in the southeast of South Australia, characterized by interveinal yellowing of leaves and eventual death. There are two main theories about the cause of Mundulla Yellows: (1) that the yellowing is lime chlorosis, caused by crushed limestone dust from roads being washed into soil, and (2) that it is caused by an irreversible and transmissible biotic pathogen. We tested the lime chlorosis hypothesis by inserting nutrients directly into the sapwood of symptomatic trees using systemic nutrient implants. If the lime chlorosis hypothesis is correct, nutrient injections of iron and manganese should increase chlorophyll synthesis and result in leaves becoming greener. We applied four different nutrient combinations (iron, manganese, iron + manganese, and a treatment that included a range of essential plant nutrients), as well as control treatments, to symptomatic trees across 10 sites. After 14 weeks there were significant increases in leaf greenness and crown health, compared to controls, when trees received either iron or iron and manganese implants. The results add further weight to the lime chlorosis hypothesis. Nutrient implants are unlikely to be a viable management strategy due to their cost and potentially short-term benefits, and trees will inevitably be lost from the region’s roadsides. Management options should involve increasing revegetation efforts and natural passive regeneration of trees away from affected roadsides, and revegetating the affected areas with species that are suited to the changed soil conditions.


Dieback Lime chlorosis Nutrient deficiency Mundulla Yellows 



Thanks to Ashley Olsen for his assistance in the field, including his photography. We would like to thank the following volunteers for the time they dedicated to scoring photographs: Emily Matthews, Phuong Doan, Michael Woodland, Sarah Box, Eleanor Fox, Patrick Piggott, Corrine Duncan, Rashedul Islam, Sandra Weller, Kristal Kinnane, Ramyaroopan Sewgolam, Freja Butler, Josh Matthews, Georgina Gould-Hardwick, Patrick Gregurke, Greg Horrocks, Gillian Armstrong, Naomi Menzel and Adrian Petrovich. Thanks to the Coorong and Tatiara District Local Action Plan committee, and in particular Graham Gates and Tracey Strugnell, for support, funding, and for helping us locate suitable sites. Thanks to Josie Jackson for sharing her considerable local knowledge. Comments from two anonymous reviewers helped to improve the manuscript considerably.

Supplementary material

13313_2018_571_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1345 kb)
13313_2018_571_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (39.3 mb)
ESM 2 (PDF 40208 kb)


  1. Angas Bremer Land and Water Management Plan (2009) Mundulla Yellows - preliminary red gum trials. Government of South Australia, South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resources Management BoardGoogle Scholar
  2. Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology (2016) Rainfall and temperature records. Accessed 4 June 2016
  3. Czerniakowski B, Crnov R, Smith IW, Luck JE (2005) Preliminary management strategies for Mundulla Yellows. Pages 26–29. In 15th Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference, Conference proceedings, GeelongGoogle Scholar
  4. Czerniakowski B, Crnov R, Smith IW, Luck JE (2006) Soil properties associated with the tree decline ‘Mundulla Yellows’. Plant Soil 285:197–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dell B (1996) Diagnosis of nutrient deficiencies in eucalypts. In: Attiwill P, Adams MA (eds) Nutrition of eucalypts. CSIRO Australia, Collingwood, pp 417–440Google Scholar
  6. Dorrough J, Moxham C (2005) Eucalypt establishment in agricultural landscapes and implications for landscape-scale restoration. Biol Conserv 123:55–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fife DN, Michael M (2009) Failure of Eucalyptus globulus (Labill.) plantations on previously irrigated pasture sites in South-Eastern South Australia. Aust For 72:12–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fischer J, Stott J, Zerger A, Warren G, Sherren K, Forrester RI (2009) Reversing a tree regeneration crisis in an endangered ecoregion. PNAS 106:10386–10391CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gibbons P, Lindenmayer D, Fischer J, Manning A, Weinberg A, Seddon J, Ryan P, Barrett G (2008) The future of scattered trees in agricultural landscapes. Conserv Biol 22:1309–1319CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Graham RD, Stangoulis JCR (2003) Trace element uptake and distribution in plants. J Nutr 133:1502S–1505SCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Green RE, Cornell SJ, Scharlemann JPW, Balmford A (2005) Farming and the fate of wild nature. Science 307:550–555CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Greenway H, Armstrong W, Colmer TD (2006) Conditions leading to high CO2 (> 5 kPa) in waterlogged–flooded soils and possible effects on root growth and metabolism. Ann Bot 98:9–32CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Grigg A, Close DC, Lambers H, Ruthrof KX, Dixon KW (2009) Ecophysiology of Eucalyptus marginata and Corymbia calophylla in decline in an urban parkland. Austral Ecol 34:499–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grime J, Hutchinson T (1967) The incidence of lime-chlorosis in the natural vegetation of England. J Ecol 55:557–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hanold D (2010) Ailing eucalypts. New Sci 208:26–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hanold D, Stukley M, Randles JW (2002) Mundulla Yellows - a new tree-dieback threat. Government of Western Australia Department of Conservation and Land ManagementGoogle Scholar
  17. Hanold D, Gowanlock D, Stukely MJC, Habili N, Randles JW (2006) Mundulla Yellows disease of eucalypts: descriptors and preliminary studies on distribution and etiology. Australas Plant Pathol 35:199–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Luck JE, Crnov R, Czerniakowski B, Smith IW, Moran JR (2006) Investigating the presence of biotic agents associated with Mundulla Yellows. Plant Dis 90:404–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Manning AD, Fischer J, Lindenmayer DB (2006) Scattered trees are keystone structures - implications for conservation. Conserv Biol 132:311–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Manning AD, Gibbons P, Lindenmayer DB (2009) Scattered trees: a complementary strategy for facilitating adaptive responses to climate change in modified landscapes? J Appl Ecol 46:915–919CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Marcar NE, Zohar Y, Guo J, Crawford DF (2002) Effect of NaCl and high pH on seedling growth of 15 Eucalyptus camaldulensis Dehnh. provenances. New For 23:193–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Martin RA, Burgman MA, Minchin PR (2001) Spatial analysis of eucalypt dieback at Coranderrk, Australia. Appl Veg Sci 4:257–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Parsons RF, Uren NC (2007) The relationship between lime chlorosis, trace elements and Mundulla Yellows. Australas Plant Pathol 36:415–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Parsons RF, Uren NC (2011) Is Mundulla Yellows really a threat to undisturbed native vegetation? A comment. Ecol Manag Restor 12:72–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Paton DC, Cutten J (1999) Distribution, spread and progression of Mundulla Yellows in South Australia. Pages 13–18. In Mundulla Yellows : a new threat to our native vegetation - meeting the challenge Proceedings of the seminar presented by the Conservation Council of South Australia in association with the University of AdelaideGoogle Scholar
  26. Paton DC, Cutten J (2000) Mundulla Yellows: a growing concern. Danthonia 8:4–5Google Scholar
  27. Paton DC, Rogers DJ, McInerney J (2005) Health and status of eucalypts in the South-East of South Austrlaia. School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, SAGoogle Scholar
  28. R Core Team (2016) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna.
  29. Randles JW, Hanold D, Stukely M, Thompson N (2010) Investigating diseases of unknown etiology: the Mundulla Yellows experience. Acta Hortic 849:325–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Raven JA (1990) Predictions of Mn and Fe use efficiencies of phototrophic growth as a function of light availability for growth and of C assimilation pathway. New Phytol 116:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Reid NCH, Landsberg J (2000) Tree decline in agricultural landscapes: what we stand to lose. In: Hobbs RJ, Yates CJ (eds) Temperate eucalypt woodlands in Australia: biology, conservation, management and restoration. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton, pp 127–166Google Scholar
  32. Scott P, Dell B, Shearer B, Barber P, Hardy J (2013) Phosphite and nutrient applications as explorative tools to identify possible factors associated with Eucalyptus gomphocephala decline in South-Western Australia. Australas Plant Pathol 42:701–711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Scott P, Barber P, Hardy GSJ (2015) Novel phosphite and nutrient application to control Phytophthora cinnamomi disease. Australas Plant Pathol 44:431–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. van der Ree R, Bennett A (2001) Woodland remnants along roadsides: a reflection of pre-European structure in temperate woodlands? Ecol Manage Restor 2:224–226Google Scholar
  35. Williams J, Hook RA, Hamblin A (2002) Agro-ecological regions of Australia: methodologies for their derivation and key issues in resource management. CSIRO Land and Water, CanberraGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Australasian Plant Pathology Society Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health and Life SciencesFederation University AustraliaBallaratAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for eResearch and Digital InnovationFederation University AustraliaBallaratAustralia

Personalised recommendations