Social Media Used To Facilitate Research Into UK Ash Dieback

Diamond shaped lesions characteristic of Ash Dieback Disease, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea. Image courtesy of The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright.

Diamond shaped lesions characteristic of Ash Dieback Disease, caused by the fungus Chalara fraxinea. Image courtesy of The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright.

This Friday scientists from The Sainsbury Laboratory in the John Innes Centre in Norwich will publish the first RNA sequence data on the ash dieback fungus Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (asexual anamorphic stage Chalara fraxinea). The data will be released via the OpenAshDieback website to a system called GitHub designed for ‘social coding’ of software so that the information can be shared with scientists and experts all over the world. Dr Dan MacLean of The Sainsbury Laboratory said:  “Bringing together knowledge and data through technically-orientated social media is one of the most vital steps in beginning to understand this outbreak”

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Update: Plant Health News (19 Dec 12)

A northern corn rootworm © Eric Bégin (CC BY-NC-ND licence)

Northern corn rootworm © Eric Bégin (CC BY-NC-ND licence)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the first harvest of seawater cucumbers, drought resistant corn increasing yields and the quantification of corn rootworm damage.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Armyworms devastate crops in Zambia, threatening food security

Armyworms can devastate crop yields © Rikus Kloppers/PANNAR Seed (Pty) Ltd

Armyworms can devastate crop yields © Rikus Kloppers/PANNAR Seed (Pty) Ltd

Armyworms in Zambia are threatening food security by reducing crop yields. This was the message from former Agriculture Minister Eustarkio Kazong, speaking in an interview for Zambian radio station, QFM. Armyworms are attacking crops, causing major damage to maize, cassava, sorghum and rice. In Kabwe, the capital of the Central Province where the first cases were reported, armyworms have already been reported to have destroyed 6500 hectares of maize crop. Despite measures to prevent the spread, cases of armyworms have today been confirmed in 5 of the country’s 10 provinces. Farmers in the remaining provinces have been advised to take precautions as the pest could spread to the whole country.
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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (12 Dec 12)

Soybeans infected with C. rosea have been reported in the USA © Howard F. Schwartz (CC BY licence)

Soybeans infected with C. rosea have been reported in the USA © Howard F. Schwartz (CC BY licence)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of Clonostachys rosea causing root rot of soybean in the USA, Groundnut bud necrosis virus and Okra yellow vein mosaic virus infecting okra in India, and the first report of Cucurbit chlorotic yellows virus on cucumber in Lebanon.

 

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Update: Plant Health News (06 Dec 12)

Moko disease of banana (Credit: Luadir Gasparotto, CC BY 3.0 licence)

Moko disease of banana © Luadir Gasparotto
(CC BY licence)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including moko disease of banana in Colombia, fruit fly control for mangoes in India and a new cassava breeding project.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Looking to the past for disease resistance

Fireblight on apples

Fireblight on apples

Traditionally, farmers have bred their crops so that, in several generations, they have a variety that has a high yield or a particular taste or texture. These days, many farmers don’t breed their own crops but buy varieties that have been specially developed to perform well. However, it turns out that sometimes it is best to rediscover old varieties that naturally already have desirable traits.

Researchers at the Swiss research centre, Agroscope, were commissioned by the Fructus Association to look at the properties of apple varieties that are no longer widely grown. This is part of the NAP-PGREL project, which aims to record the properties of approximately 300 fruit varieties a year and make this information available to fruit growers. Read more of this post

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (28 Nov 12)

Effects of PepMV on immature and mature tomato fruit © Piero Roggero

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this fortnight include the first report of Pepino mosaic virus (PepMV) in Croatia, mites associated with soybean in Brazil, and the first report of Tomato chlorotic spot virus in the USA.

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Watermelon Genome Could Hold the Key to Improved Varieties With Fewer Pest Problems

A research team led by the Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences have produced the complete genomic sequence of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus). It is hoped that the genomic data from this study will shape future research into watermelon genetics and provide a good resource for crop genetics and future plant breeding projects, resulting in improved watermelon cultivars with a greater degree of pest resistance.

Watermelons suffer large yield losses due to many pests and diseases and it is hoped that new genetic research can be used to improve varieties to make them less susceptible to pathogens ©Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons (License CC-BY-2.0).

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Update: Plant Health News (21 Nov 12)

Mites could be used to prevent Thrip damage to citrus fruits. (Credit: Elizabeth Asteraki)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including using mites to control citrus pests, an update on counties affected by Ash dieback and the recovery plan for Cuban banana crops hit by Sandy.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Plantwise Plant Clinics in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago Country Coordinator Shamela Rambadan sent the photo below of a Soursop (Annona muricata) plant brought into a clinic in County Victoria in Trinidad and Tobago by farmer Ramesh Ramnanan last month. The symptoms described included yellowed, distorted leaves and visible insects on the leaves, as seen in the photo. Plant health officer Zobida Mohammed diagnosed the symptoms to be caused by mealybugs and scale insects and recommended that the farmer used a suitable insecticide on the crop to avoid further damage.

A photo of the leaves of a Soursop plant from a plant clinic in County Victoria. The insect pests are visible as white dots along the leaf veins. Image courtesy of Zobida Mohammed

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