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."