Could invasive plant management prevent the spread of malaria?

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CABI scientists have joined an international team of experts who suggest that the large-scale management of a range of some invasive plants could hold the key to reducing the spread of deadly malaria.

Dr Arne Witt and Dr Sean Murphy worked with scientists from the University of Illinois, The Ohio State University and the Fundación para el Estudio de Especies Invasivas (FuEDEI) in Argentina, to conduct a review of existing studies which looked at how mosquitoes are attracted to both land and water-based invasive plants such as water hyacinth, floating pennywort and prosopis and how best these invasive plants can be managed.

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The Valentine’s Day Invasion

Rose Bouquet

The influx of imported flowers in time for Valentine’s Day increases the risk of invasive pests making their way into native vegetation. Throughout January and February each year, customs and border agents have to inspect floods of bouquets arriving from across the globe to their intended markets in the US and Europe. While the pretty petals are intended to impress loved ones, they could also be carrying unwanted guests.

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Classical biological control of Drosophila suzukii with Asian parasitoids

Spotted Wing Drosophila (Cherry Vinegar Fly) Drosophila suzukii
Spotted-Wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii

The soft-fruit pest Drosophila suzukii, or spotted-wing drosophila (SWD), is particularly difficult to control because of its short generation time and its very broad host range, including many wild and ornamental plants. The pest has been causing damage to fruit crop in Europe as well as North America where damages costing $500million were reported in the USA. The pest arrived in Europe from Asia in 2008, presumably in the larval stage of infested fruit. The fruit fly attacks by depositing its eggs in ripe and healthy fruit where the larvae quickly hatch destroying the fruit.

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Using roundworms to manage the Tomato Leaf Miner

Tuta absoluta  (tomato leafminer) larval damage on tomato (Lycop
The tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta

Research recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology has offered new insight into managing the tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) using entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN). If the pest is not adequately managed, it can cause up to 100% crop loss in both field and green-house grown tomatoes. Also causing further concern is the increasing insecticide resistance the pest has shown to be developing.

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CABI launches programme to take Action on Invasive Species

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An extension officer in Ghana explaining how to manage Fall armyworm; photo: CABI

Millions of the world’s most vulnerable people face problems with invasive weeds, insects and plant diseases , which are out of control and have a major impact on global prosperity, communities and the environment. Developing countries are disproportionately affected. The global cost of the world’s 1.2 million invasive species is estimated at $1.4 trillion per year – close to 5 percent of global gross domestic product. In East Africa, five major invasive species alone cause $1 billion in economic losses to smallholder farmers each year.

In response, CABI is today launching a unique, global programme with the aim to protect and improve the livelihoods of 50 million poor rural households impacted by invasive species. The DFID and DGIS funded Action on Invasives programme will champion an environmentally sustainable, cross-sectoral and regional approach to dealing with invasive species.

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Invasive species — the hidden threat to sustainable development

Devastating damage to maize crops caused by fall armyworm in Ghana. Photo: CABI

When tackling health, hunger or education, how many projects consider the threat of invasive species? The Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International believes not incorporating biosecurity and invasive species management into development work could jeopardize the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. In this guest column, Roger Day highlights how invasive species can have major economic, social, and environmental impact and explains the importance of cross-sector collaboration.

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Enlisting microbes to enhance Himalayan balsam biocontrol

Bee on Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam flower drawing bee pollinators away from native flowers

Building on CABI research into the biological control of Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) using a rust fungus (Puccinia komarovii var. glanduliferae), a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded collaboration between Royal Holloway, CABI and the University of Reading is investigating the role of the microbial community associated with the plant and how these microbes may be exploited to enhance biocontrol efficacy and aid in the recovery of invaded sites. It is hoped that the findings of the study may be applicable to biocontrol programmes more widely.

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