Update: Plant Health News (29 Sept 11)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest news stories about plant health:

If there’s another news story you’d like to highlight, please post a comment.

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (22 Sept 11)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Click on the links to view the abstracts.

No confrontation as UK MPs debate food security and famine in the Horn of Africa

Praise for the generosity of the British public, the need to continue supporting small-scale farmers, and the importance of science: these issues were all raised in a debate on food security and famine in the Horn of Africa in the UK’s House of Commons on Thursday 15 September. Read more of this post

Coffee Berry Borer thriving due to Climate Change

A newly published paper has found that temperature increases are benefiting coffee berry borers in East Africa. The insects are causing more damage to coffee crops and it has also been reported that their distribution range has also expanded. The researchers behind the study also predict that the damage caused by the borers will worsen in the future.

Adult Coffee Berry Borer. Georg Goergen/IITA Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin

The coffee industry is worth $90 billion dollars and involves around 25million coffee farmers across the tropics. It is an important crop for many farmers in developing countries and all efforts need to be taken to reduce pest damage.

The coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei, is the most important pest of coffee worldwide. The Plantwise distribution map shows over 150 areas in which it has been reported. Read more of this post

Sunscreen for temperate crops

British researchers have discovered how corals are able to resist harmful UV light through their relationship with algae. They have found more than 20 sun-protection compounds within corals that could be used to benefit farmers in developing countries.  The new compounds could bolster the current sun protection processes found in temperate crops to allow them to thrive in tropical conditions.

Coral by flightsaber (flickr)

The team from King’s College London, supported by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, made the discovery by analysing coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

They found that the mutually dependent relationship between coral and algae is the key to the coral’s ability to survive the sun’s exposure. The team suggested that the algae produce a compound that is transported to the coral which then modifies it for use as a sunscreen. This protects the coral and allows the algae to also benefit as it allows their mutually beneficial relationship to continue.

Read more of this post

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