join the network

Advancing techniques for diagnosis of yellow canopy syndrome

Yellow canopy syndrome (YCS) is an as-yet unresolved syndrome that is spreading through the sugarcane industry. First recognised in far north Queensland in 2012, it has now been detected in all Queensland sugarcane-growing regions. The cause of the syndrome is currently not fully defined but the role of insects is one research area being examined.


A rapid molecular method would allow more detailed evaluation of the insect fauna at the species level, particularly for insect groups which are prevalent when YCS occurs. It would also allow a detailed study of the population dynamics of those targeted insects, both within cane fields and within field borders.

If a causal agent could be identified, controlled experiments would then allow the development of appropriate in-field molecular diagnostics for the insect involved. Alternatively, or in combination, symptom expression could be detected at an early stage before symptoms become apparent at ground level using remote sensing technology.

Sugar Research Australia in collaboration with the University of Southern Queensland and the University of Melbourne is seeking a PhD student to investigate potential causal agents of yellow canopy syndrome of sugarcane and examine foliar changes during YCS symptom expression, focusing on:

  • The in-field epidemiology and dynamics of both yellow canopy syndrome and potential causal agents at species level
  • Development of a molecular diagnostic approach to characterise the insect species likely to be involved as causal agents
  • Rapid in-field diagnostics for the causal agent and/or YCS symptom expression

The student should have an interest in molecular biology, remote sensing or applied entomology.

The project will be based in Cairns, North Queensland.



Further information is available from:
Dr Kevin Powell
Sugar Research Australia
M 0459 866 598

Prof Gavin Ash
University of Southern Queensland
T 07 4631 1691
M 0484 848 012