Farmers who grow cereal crops in most African countries are all too familiar with the challenges presented by striga, a parasitic plant also known as witchweed that infests farmers’ fields and causes lower yields, or even no harvest at all. Now African scientists are breeding maize that can resist this pest plant as extension agents are offering farmers various solutions for improving yields in areas where the invasive weed is especially prevalent.
Invasive Species Resources
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Cornell University. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Cornell Alliance for Science.
Queen's University Belfast (United Kingdom).
Research led by Queen’s University Belfast has shown that invasive species, such as the grey squirrel, European rabbit and Japanese knotweed, have cost the UK economy over £5 billion over the past 40-50 years. This is one of the highest totals in Europe. Invasive species, those introduced and spreading outside of their native range as a result of human activities, are a growing threat to environments worldwide. Environmental impacts of invasive species, one of the main causes of biodiversity loss, are well-studied. However, few studies have summarised their economic impacts. This study is the largest and most up-to-date combination of economic costs of biological invasions in the UK. The results have been published in the journal NeoBiota.
Virginia Tech entomologist Muni Muniappan has warned of Tuta absoluta’s likely arrival into the United States since he began monitoring the pest's spread throughout Africa in 2012. Thanks to a joint grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Muniappan's team and collaborators will be able to model the pest's entry into the United States — protecting the country's billion-dollar tomato industry — before irreparable damage is caused. Tuta absoluta is a tomato pest native to South America. If left unmitigated, it has the potential to destroy 100 percent of tomato crops. In 2016, the pest caused a "tomato emergency" in such countries as Nigeria, where tomatoes are a lifeline for many smallholder farmers. With the U.S. as one of the world's leaders in tomato production, the pest's impact would be severe if nothing is done to stop it. The USDA's Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics Tools Initiative awarded the University of Virginia's Biocomplexity Institute and Virginia Tech the four-year, $500,000 grant to project the pest's movement and rate of spread into the U.S. The model, to be developed by the Biocomplexity Institute, will map the spread of invasive species over time, accounting for factors such as climate, biology, and demographic information.