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.
University of Guam.
The University of Guam received another round of funding in September under the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Act for the surveying and monitoring of invasive pests of solanaceous crops that are on USDA’s Priority Pest List for 2021. Solanaceae, or nightshades, are a family of flowering plants that include tomato, eggplant, and chili pepper. As part of the national effort this year, UOG was awarded $38,000 to survey and monitor for two pests: Tuta absoluta, which is a moth and type of leafminer capable of destroying an entire crop, and Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2, which is a bacterium, known as a bacterial wilt, that infects through the roots and is deadly to plants.
The work through UOG better prepares the island to manage these invasive species if or when they arrive. "There are certain pathogens and insects that have a reputation of being really bad. These are two of them," said project lead Robert L. Schlub, a researcher and faculty member of UOG Cooperative Extension and Outreach with a doctorate in plant pathology. "They aren’t on Guam, but if they show up, we want to know so we can help get them under control."
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.
University of the South Pacific.
The Pacific Islands Marine Bioinvasions Alert Network (PacMAN) Project, which aims to monitor and identify marine biological invasive alien species, was officially inaugurated on November 24 in collaboration with the Institute of Applied Sciences at The University of the South Pacific (USP-IAS).
USP-IAS Acting Director, Dr Isoa Korovulavula stated it was a significant occasion as they moved collaboratively to a new "frontier" of protecting the local marine environment from invasive species. "The PacMAN Project is expected to boost local capability for early identification and warning of maritime invasive alien species. We are using revolutionary technology, such as DNA metabarcoding, to identify and deal with marine invasive alien species in our local marine environment," he explained.
North American beavers have wiped out 30 percent of forests along rivers and streams in Tierra del Fuego, a remote archipelago at the southern tip of South America, causing the greatest landscape change to these fragile forests in the last 10,000 years. It’s no surprise, then, that the governments of Chile and Argentina want the invasive beavers gone. But eradicating them has proven to be difficult, researchers found, because it requires the participation of every single landowner in the area.