Lucia Ramos Romero

Scientist, Mt Albert

Coming to New Zealand to join Plant & Food Research has put a sharper focus on my work in plant fungi and diseases.

In Germany, my research on emerging diseases on maize led to a published guide for growers to help them recognise early symptoms and gave advice on control measures. Maize production in Germany must comply with domestic market rules but New Zealand crop and food producers’ focus on export markets raises the stakes. Export markets want produce that is both disease- and residue-free. That means growers depend even more on good scientific advice, and I’m looking forward to that challenge.

I have joined Dr Robert Beresford’s Epidemiology and Disease Management team doing detailed analysis on early detection of diseases – Psa in kiwifruit, and I’m applying my specialist knowledge in fungal infections to fruit crops. The goal is to build a picture of the conditions that favour the development of diseases, so that we can recommend how and when to look for them, and how to deliver the most effective response.

My PhD from the University of Goettingen focused on emerging foliar diseases on maize in central Europe which led to the project to produce advice for growers. For my masters degree I worked on developing screening for chemical compounds to control a fungus-like organism that causes root rot. It’s related to New Zealand‘s kauri dieback disease.

I also completed internships at Bayer CropScience AG, analysing fungal foliage diseases affecting wheat, barley and potatoes, and intensive research courses on land use in the Dominican Republic and in Florida and Georgia, USA.

I hope my international experience will provide fresh perspectives in helping New Zealand growers and lead to new collaborations with research institutions and industry overseas.

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