Kiwifruit symposium brings worldwide network together

29 February 2024

The Eleventh International Symposium on Kiwifruit was held in Mt Maunganui recently with the theme of “Diversifying for Future Uncertainty”.

The KVH team attended, alongside 230 delegates from around the globe, who shared diverse topics across many Actinidia species and disciplines including breeding, physiology, post-harvest, sustainability, and technology, and included field visits to local orchards and pack-houses.

The event was co-hosted by Plant & Food Research and Zespri, in association with the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS).

Dr Francesco Spinelli, familiar to New Zealand kiwifruit growers through his role in the Psa research journey, opened the Symposium with a keynote presentation on the Italian Kiwifruit Vine Decline Syndrome (KVDS), commenting that this and other emerging and re-emerging biosecurity challenges will continue to impact countries as a function of the changing climate.

He described how the global increases in pest and disease pressure will have the potential to threaten both quality and yield, with the added challenge also of growing in a world where regulations increasingly limit the use of current chemical pesticides. Dr Spinelli noted the global challenges will require concerted efforts to understand the interplay between plants, their microbiomes, the soil, and our environmental production systems with shared learnings essential to speed this process.

It was great to see KVH, Zespri, and Plant & Food scientists on the international stage presenting work completed through the Zespri Biosecurity Innovation portfolio , including research on Phytophthora, kiwifruit trunk diseases in New Zealand, and investigation of the new Psa variant. Work on our most unwanted biosecurity threats including Ceratocystis fimbriata and fruit flies also highlighted our linkages with global researchers in this space.

Other diverse and engaging talks included a look at an Actinidia species adapted to the tropical highlands of Mexico, a Japanese enquiry into growing kiwifruit hydroponically, and deep dives into the molecular biology supporting plant breeding programmes.

Successful events like this are hugely valuable in building international networks between leading scientists – there were 78 speakers and 132 abstracts provided from across the kiwifruit world.