Update: Plant Health News (21 Oct 15)

The Gene Stewardship Award was presented to 3 Kenyan scientists for their work in tackling the deadly wheat rust © IAEA Imagebank
The Gene Stewardship Award was presented to 3 Kenyan scientists for their work in tackling wheat rust © IAEA Imagebank

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including how technology could increase Citrus yields in Pakistan by 30%, what scientists in Kenya are doing to eliminate devastating wheat rust and a global maps of the gap between potential and actual yields of wheat and maize.

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Monitoring and Management of Desert Locusts in Africa

An adult Desert Locust © AtelierMonpli via Wikimedia Commons (License CC-BY-SA-3.0)
An adult Desert Locust © AtelierMonpli via Wikimedia Commons (License CC-BY-SA-3.0)

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has this month warned that Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) swarms are invading cropping areas of northern Sudan. The swarms originated from winter breeding areas on the Red Sea coastal plains and subcoastal areas in northeast Sudan and southeast Egypt. The situation requires close monitoring as more swarms are expected to form in the coming weeks that could move into parts of  Sudan and southern Egypt. If no further rains fall and the vegetation dries out, some of these swarms could move into the interior of both countries and also cross the Red Sea to the coast of Saudi Arabia.

Locusts belong to the Acrididae family (in the order Orthoptera which includes grasshoppers and crickets) and when triggered by certain cues such as increased crowding with other locusts have the ability to change their morphology, behaviour and physiology over several generations. This phase change occurs from a solitary to a gregarious phase, eventually causing the locusts to form dense hopper bands and swarms. One of the most serious locust pests is the Desert Locust.

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