New strategy required for delaying insect resistance to Bt crops

Kenyan farmer Mary Ngare in her maize field damaged by stem borers © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Kenyan farmer Mary Ngare in her maize field damaged by stem borers © CIMMYT (CC BY-NC-SA)

Transgenic Bt crops have been grown around the world since the 1990s and have contributed to increased yields by controlling agricultural pests. Due to the importance of this technology, there has been continuous study into the development of resistance to Bt crops and how best to avoid this happening. A recent investigation into the rapid spread of Bt resistance in South Africa has revealed one of the more surprising discoveries to date, that the maize stalk borer (Busseola fusca) has evolved Bt maize resistance inherited as a dominant trait for the first time. This has significant impacts on the management of Bt crops, as current methods for sustaining susceptibility rely on the recessive inheritance of Bt resistance.

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Update: Plant Health News (25 Sep 13)

Potato harvest, Potatoes in India prone to foliar necrosis © Johan Bichel Lindegaard

Potato harvest, Potatoes in India prone to foliar necrosis © Johan Bichel Lindegaard

We’ve selected a few of the latest stories about plant health. Records this week include the identification of plants’ natural defense mechanisms against pests, the first report of tomato yellow spot virus in Brazil and recordings of foliar necrosis of potato in India. 

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Resolving pest problems in Trinidad and Tobago

Article by Shamela Rambadan, CABI Country Coordinator.

Sample of the slug and eggs © CABI

Sample of the slug and eggs © CABI

In Trinidad and Tobago many Plantwise plant clinics have been implemented to provide free information and advice to smallholder farmers. To date there are 8 plant clinics in Trinidad and 2 are planned for Tobago. CABI Plantwise is partnered with the Ministry of Food Production with extension workers from the Ministry and the Department of Agriculture in Tobago trained by CABI to become plant doctors at local plant clinics. The plant doctors diagnose plant pest and diseases and provide recommendations as to the control. For plant samples that require further identification they are sent to the diagnostic facility at the Ministry of Food Production in Trinidad.

The plant clinic at St George West County Extension Office in Trinidad and Tobago recently received Merleen, a householder in desperate need to control the slug population on her prized Anthuriums. Merleen came to the clinic to seek advice to resolve the pest problem without the use of harsh chemicals. She noted that many of her Anthuriums died once the slugs started feeding on the leaves and has subsequently lost 24 out of 50 plants since the onset of the slug battle in September 2012. Merleen explained that in an attempt to control the slug population she would go out into her garden late at night armed with a flashlight to identify the slugs and table salt which she applied directly onto the slugs in order to destroy them. Despite a small reduction in population, the slugs kept coming back night after night.   Read more of this post

Update: New Pest & Disease Records (18 Sep 13)

A collection of Botryosphaeriaceae species have been identified from mangoes in NE Brazil © W.A. Djatmiko (CC BY)

A collection of Botryosphaeriaceae species have been identified from mangoes in NE Brazil © W.A. Djatmiko (CC BY)

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 new rust species and hosts from Northern Pakistan,  Colletotrichum species associated with cultivated citrus in China and the identification and comparison of Botryosphaeriaceae species associated with dieback and stem-end rot of mango in Northeastern Brazil. 

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Warming Climate Marches Pests and Pathogens Polewards

Locust Swarm © Wild Center

Locust Swarm © Wild Center

The distribution of plant pests and pathogens has been observed to be moving away from the equator towards the North and South poles and inhabit areas previously too cold for their existence. This threatens to increase the percentage of crops lost annually to pests and pathogens and subsequently raises major concerns over global food security.

A new study published in Nature Climate Change revealed distributions of plant pests and pathogens are advancing polewards at an average rate of 2.7 km (1.7 miles) per year. The current shift in the range of plant pests and pathogens will increase the percentage of crops lost every year. This is expected to increase as temperatures continue to rise. Dr Dan Bebber and his co-authors from the University of Exeter warned that “If crop pests continue to march polewards as the Earth warms the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security”.

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Update: Plant Health News (11 Sep 13)

Symptoms of Monilinia laxa on peach fruit © M. Fawaz Azmeh

Symptoms of Monilinia laxa on peach fruit © M. Fawaz Azmeh

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including using hot water to control Monilinia rots on peaches and nectarines, stem borers causing concern for Indian farmers and the use of new yield-improving technology being used by Ghanaian mango farmers.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (04 Sep 13)

Leaf miner trails are created by the feeding of the larvae © Jason Hollinger (CC BY)

Trails, created by the feeding of leaf miner larvae © Jason Hollinger (CC BY)

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 Cherry leaf roll virus in Darrow’s Blueberry (Vaccinium darrowii), the first report of fruit stem anthracnose of Kiwifruit caused by Glomerella septospora in China and a new genus and species of leaf miner for Chile associated to the native tree Lithraea caustica.

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