Traded forest tree seeds pose a great risk of introducing harmful pest, new research shows

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American acorn (Quercus garryana) with fungus on the inside of the skin and feeding damage by weevil larvae (Photo: ©CABI/Iva Franić)

CABI has led an international team of scientists who strongly suggest that the global trade of forest tree seeds is not as safe as previously believed, with insect pests and fungal pathogens posing a great risk to trees and forest ecosystems worldwide.

Non-native insect pests and fungal pathogens present one of the major threats to trees and forest ecosystems globally, with the potential to cause significant ecological changes and economic losses.

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Continuing the biological fight against a hardy foe – the maize-devastating western corn rootworm

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Stefan Toepfer, Szabolcs Toth and Matija Milkovic collecting western corn rootworms from highly invested maize fields in southern Hungary (Photo: Matija Mikovic)

CABI is continuing the fight against the maize-devastating western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) by collecting more than 22,000 live specimens of this chrysomelid beetle for further research into its biological control.

Dr Stefan Toepfer has been busy in the maize fields of southern Hungary gathering the insects, which, of Mexican origin, have invaded many maize production areas of North America and Europe – adapting to nearly all management options regardless of insecticides, transgenic maize, or crop rotation.

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Collaborative effort in Kenya to manage the impact of scale insect in coastal region

Coffee production in Rwanda
Coffee is a value cash-crop for many in Africa but successful yields can be affected by scale insects including the coffee mealybug (Copyright Charles Agwanda/CABI)

By Fernadis Makale, CABI

Scale insects – such as the coffee mealybug and cassava mealybug – are some of the least studied group of invertebrates in East Africa. However, a collaborative effort has been made to address the threat they pose to smallholder farmers: despite their cross-cutting status as pests in all plant groups, crops, ornamentals, trees and weeds.

Several organisations* in Kenya including CABI, and in conjunction with the UK’s Natural History Museum, have joined forces to train up to 30 new extension officers whose role will include identifying scale insects and communicating theirs risks and how they can be managed with smallholder farmers.

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CABI joins international team of scientists calling for a Global Surveillance System to fight crop diseases

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Blue-green sharpshooters are a disease vector of Xylella fastidiosa (Photo: Katja Schulz / Flickr)

CABI has joined an international team of scientists calling for a Global Surveillance System (GSS) to fight a range of diseases which threaten priority crops including maize, potato, cassava, rice, beans and wheat.

The team, which includes the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) – lead authors of a new report published in Science (28 June 2019), say a GSS is needed to ‘improve and interconnect crop biosecurity systems which could go a long way to improving global food security.’

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Scientists recommend measures to contain rapid woody weed spread in Baringo County, Kenya

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A team of international scientists, including CABI’s Dr Urs Schaffner, have recommended ways to manage the devastating spread of the woody weed Prosopis juliflora, where in Baringo County, Kenya, its coverage rapidly increased by 2,031 percent in just 28 years.

PhD student Purity Rima Mbaabu, affiliated to the University of Nairobi and co-supervised by Simon Choge, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Dr Sandra Eckert, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland, Profs. Maina Gichaba and Prof. Daniel Olago, University of Nairobi, and Dr Schaffner, is lead author of new research which states that the rates of Prosopis invasion in Kenya are a ‘major threat to the environment and rural people’s livelihoods.’

The study calls for the ‘urgent implementation of coordinated and sustainable Prosopis management in Baringo County and other invaded areas in East Africa’.

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CABI publishes recommendations to fight scourge of parthenium weed in Central West Asia

Parthenium in Pakistan

CABI has published a new evidence note highlighting a list of recommendations to fight the highly-invasive parthenium weed which can have significant impacts on human health, the environment, livestock production and health and crop yields.

The report Parthenium: Impacts and coping strategies in Central West Asia, states that the aggressively-spreading weed, now classified as a ‘superior weed,’ is extremely prolific being capable of producing up to 30,000 seeds per plant – a key factor in its global spread to 48 countries including India and Pakistan.

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