An analysis of the vine disease Psa that has cost the New Zealand kiwifruit industry hundreds of millions of dollars has revealed the bacteria probably came from China.
The research, published in the journal PloS One on Thursday, compared DNA from bacteria from kiwifruit vines in New Zealand, Europe and China.
It linked the New Zealand outbreak of the disease in 2010 to bacteria found in China, but the authors of the report said more data was needed to confirm the link.
"While our current genomic data suggest a possible Chinese origin of the European outbreak, we only have data obtained with genome-derived markers for the New Zealand outbreak," they said.
Dr Margi Butler from the University of Otago says the new study backs existing research which found the New Zealand variant of the disease was closely related to Chinese and Italian strains.
"It is very pleasing that the two analyses should be in such close agreement," Dr Butler said.
She says New Zealand research had already ascertained the outbreak did not come from Europe and New Zealand was not the source of a 2008 outbreak in Italy.
The study was made public a day after a report from Lincoln University said Psa will cost the $1.3 billion kiwifruit export industry between $310 million and $410m over the next five years in disease management and lost production.
The report, commissioned by recovery body Kiwifruit Vine Health, estimated the disease will result in the loss of up to 470 jobs each year until 2016.
At last count 1184 orchards - 36 per cent of New Zealand kiwifruit orchards - were infected with the Psa-V disease.The disease was first identified on a Te Puke orchard in November 2010.
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