Mildew mania! - Investigate the state-wide spread of barley fungal diseases

An invitation to take part in a state-wide science experiment!


More information or to register your interest

For more information on the project visit our Citizen Science page at:

If you or your school would like to take part in this state-wide science experiment,
please register at:
REGISTRATIONS EXTENDED - now close on the 11 April 2011


Curtin University would like to invite schools to help with an ongoing citizen-science research project aimed at protecting Western Australia’s barley crops from the damaging effect of powdery mildew disease.
In WA, this disease causes the most economic impact on barley. Researchers at Curtin University’s Department of Environment and Agriculture aim to give plant breeders and growers the tools they require to control this disease and therefore reduce the state’s losses.
Barley mildew is currently controlled in two ways, through genetics and through fungicides. But these are both presently compromised.
Genetic resistance to the disease is no longer effective, as the pathogen population can rapidly evolve to overcome the resistance genes that are present in current cultivars. To solve this problem this researchers need to explore which “races” of the pathogen are present in different parts of WA.
The second control is fungicide. Curtin researchers have observed that much of the population is becoming resistant to the most commonly used fungicides. To combat this we need to identify which WA mildew populations are fungicide resistant and which are not.
This is a rare and exciting opportunity for your students to conduct meaningful science research that will have a real impact on Western Australia!
How can you help?

We need your help to trap the strain of barley powdery mildew near you and report your results to us at Curtin University in Bentley.  
Once registered, an experiment pack containing full activity instructions and barley seeds will be sent to you. Your class or school will need to grow the barley in a location with ample natural wind exposure to ensure “trapping” of the mildew spores.
You will need to source compost/fertiliser, pots and a small (somewhat partially protected) area to grow the plants (such as a modest shade house or area where students cannot meddle with the plants). Barley is relatively easy to grow and all your experimental plants need would be regular watering, feeding and observation.
Schools can apply for small grants from Curtin University School of Science to assist with the purchase of consumables and equipment (limited available, conditions apply).
Proposed cost to school

Registration = FREE
Seeds and instructions = FREE
Scientific analysis = FREE
Plastic pots = 3 (25cm pots) x $2.00 = $6.00
Fertiliser = 1 x $10 = $10.00
Potting mix = 1 x $10.00 = $10.00
Postage of results = $4.00
Total = $26.00
Optional - Clear plastic (if ad hoc “shade house” required) = $5.00 (per metre) x 2m = $10.00
Optional - Stakes for shade house = 4 x $2.00 = $8.00
Educational value

This activity can be completed by nearly any student body as the experiment can be manipulated to suit a number of year levels.
Junior students can perform all the operations needed to grow, look after and observe the plants. Senior students can be introduced to the concepts of plant disease, genetic resistance (we can include resistant barley cultivars if requested), fungicide control and fungicide resistance.


·     11 April 2011 – Registrations close

·     Mid April 2011 – experiment packs arrive in mail

·     Mid April to Mid May 2011 – prime barley planting time

·     May to August 2011 - growing season

·     July to September 2011 – samples photographed and collected by students and mailed to Curtin University

·     August to October 2011 – samples tested in Curtin labs

·     November 2011 – results published in newsletter to schools

·     End of November 2011 – Expression of Interest for 2012 close to help us track the spread of different strains of barley powdery mildew across WA

More information and to register your interest

For more information on the project, visit:

If you or your school would like to take part in this state-wide science experiment,
please register at:
Registrations close on the 11 April 2011.

Emma Donnelly
Science Outreach Coordinator | Faculty Science and Engineering

Curtin University
Tel | +61 8 9266 1021
Fax | +61 8 9266 2021
Office | Building 311 Room 147

Email |
Web |
Postal address | GPO Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia, 6845

Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology.
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