Puccinia spegazzinii for the biological control of Mikania micrantha

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We conducted a risk analysis for the proposed release of the rust fungus Puccinia spegazzinii into Australia. The purpose of this release is to control Mikania micrantha, commonly known as mile-a-minute weed.

The use of exotic biological control agents to control invertebrate pests, weeds and other organisms has been common in Australia for many years. Releasing pathogenic, herbivorous, predatory or parasitic organisms into the Australian environment can have potential “off-target” risks. This means risk to other plants or invertebrate animals not targeted by the biological control agent.

We began this risk analysis in response to an application to release Puccinia spegazzinii to control Mikania micrantha. The application was submitted by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF). The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will not commence an assessment to release a biological control agent unless the target pest species has been approved by an appropriate government body. Mikania micrantha was approved as a target for biological control by the Australian Weeds Committee in April 2014.

We have now released a final report, which:

  • estimates off-target risks and potential consequences of the release
  • evaluates the risk to be Negligible, which achieves Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP)
  • recommends the release of the biological control agent Puccinia spegazzinii.


We conducted a risk analysis for the proposed release of the rust fungus Puccinia spegazzinii into Australia. The purpose of this release is to control Mikania micrantha, commonly known as mile-a-minute weed.

The use of exotic biological control agents to control invertebrate pests, weeds and other organisms has been common in Australia for many years. Releasing pathogenic, herbivorous, predatory or parasitic organisms into the Australian environment can have potential “off-target” risks. This means risk to other plants or invertebrate animals not targeted by the biological control agent.

We began this risk analysis in response to an application to release Puccinia spegazzinii to control Mikania micrantha. The application was submitted by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF). The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will not commence an assessment to release a biological control agent unless the target pest species has been approved by an appropriate government body. Mikania micrantha was approved as a target for biological control by the Australian Weeds Committee in April 2014.

We have now released a final report, which:

  • estimates off-target risks and potential consequences of the release
  • evaluates the risk to be Negligible, which achieves Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP)
  • recommends the release of the biological control agent Puccinia spegazzinii.