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 Fusarium chlamydosporum causing wilt disease of guava in India, a new record of stored product pest Lepinotus reticulatus from China and the first report of the invasive stink bug Bagrada hilaris from New Mexico.
Holly leaves are a quintessential part of Christmas, whether they are hung up as decorations in boughs and wreaths, as a seasonal garnish on top of Christmas puddings or on the front of Christmas cards. Now new research published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society has connected a combination of herbivore activity and epigenetics to the prickliness of holly leaves.
A number of studies have supported the idea that increased plant prickliness is a response to herbivory by large browsing animals such as deer and goats. Holly (Ilex aquifolium) is a small evergreen tree found throughout Europe and North Africa. The leaves of holly can either be smooth or with a variable number of tough spines along the margins. The production of these spiny leaves is a defence mechanism against herbivores. Holly trees sometimes only have one leaf type, but typically they have both prickly and non-prickly leaves on the same plant (known as heterophylly) with the proportion of the two types depending on plant age, size and recent browsing history.
“The ability of an organism to change its characteristics in response to environmental variations is known as phenotypic plasticity and it is a key driving factor in the evolution of a species” said Dr Carlos Herrera from the National Research Council of Spain (CSIC) in Seville. Continue reading →
Recently aired as part of The Climate Reality Project (founded by Al Gore), this documentary contains a 5 minute film about climate change and smallholder coffee production in Colombia. The film featured as part of a 24 hour online stream of climate documentaries and discussions to raise awareness and explain the varying impacts of global climate change.
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”
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.
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. Continue reading →
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.