Researchers in Victoria have uncovered crucial links between the eucalypt disease Mundulla Yellows which is spreading from the west, and carbon dioxide in the air.
The phenomenon, named after the tiny South Australian town where it was first found, has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of trees across the country.
Dr Rosa Crnov from the Victorian Institute of Horticultural Development said the disease was originally thought to be caused by a virus but recent research suggests rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could be a cause.
She said the rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide started increasing almost exponentially in the 1970s, just as many global tree declines started occurring.
The VIHD is now setting up experiments to test what effect rising carbon dioxide levels are having on soils.