Buzzing activity around pollinator health

By Anu Veijalainen, CABI. Reblogged from CABI Hand-picked blog.

Yesterday I cherished the start of spring in England by attending an event devoted to pollinators and pollination at the University of Reading. Most presentations at this meeting organised by the Royal Entomological Society were understandably about bees, but we also heard a few talks highlighting the importance of other pollinator groups.

For about five years now the media has been broadcasting alarming news about declining bee populations especially in Europe and North America. While the amounting evidence points to neonicotinoid insecticides being a major cause for the decline, I learnt yesterday that the situation is actually rather complex, other stressors are also involved, and scientists are still eagerly trying to form a complete understanding of the issue.

European Honey Bee Touching Down
Photo by Autan, under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

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Update: Plant Health News (02 Mar 16)

A lack of Nitrogen in soil affects the crop (top leaf) and reduces yield (Photo by Dr Prakash Kumar)
A Nitrogen deficient leaf and a normal leaf. Lack of Nitrogen in soil can severely limit yield (photo by Dr Prakash Kumar)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including what can be done about the depleted nitrogen in African soils, investment in safe agricultural products in Vietnam and the effect El Niño is having on global food production.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!

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Four new bee species described in Australia – many more remain unidentified

by Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CABI. Reblogged from CABI’s Hand Picked blog.

One of the new species of Australian bee, Euhesma albamala
One of the new species of Australian bee, Euhesma albamala. Copyright: K. Hogendoorn, M. Stevens, R. Leijs, CC BY 4.0 license

Bee specialists from South Australia have described four new native bees. Three of these bee species have been described as  having narrow faces and very long mouths, allowing them to feed on slender flowers found on the emu bush, a hardy native of the Australian desert environment, and to collect the nectar through a narrow constriction at the base of the emu bush flowers. Based on the authors’ description, the way these bees have adapted to feed on emu bush flowers is an excellent example of evolution. The fourth species belongs to a different group and has a more commonly observed round-shaped head.

The four new species belong to the genus Euhesma. Their description is based on evaluation of DNA ‘barcoding’ and morphological comparison of the bees with museum specimens.

The study was led by K. Hogendoorn of the University of Adelaide and was carried out in collaboration with specialists from the South Australian Museum. The results of the study are published in the journal ZooKeys.

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The unfortunate plight of the pollinators- Who are the culprits?

Photo credit: Autan@fickr.com
Honey bee foraging on the flower

Why are pollinators declining? New research suggests neonicotinoids are to blame.

When we talk of the crop production we hardly remember to acknowledge the services of these tiny pollinators and also don’t bother to safeguard them when we invest a lot in plant protection. These pollinators play an elemental role in an important process of nature known as pollination. Pollination is an important process in both human managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations pollination is one of the essential ecosystem services. Continue reading

Update: Plant Health News (20 Nov 13)

Maize affected by Aspergillus flavus. a major producer of aflatoxins © Department of Plant Pathology Archive, North Carolina State University (CC BY-NC)
Maize affected by Aspergillus flavus. a major producer of aflatoxins © Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University (CC BY-NC)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the development of sweet potatoes with multiple virus resistance, the reduction of aflatoxins using biological control and warnings from RAB about Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease.

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Update: Plant Health News (06 Nov 13)

Bangladesh has started harvesting a bumper production from new stress tolerant rice varieties © IRRI (CC BY-NC-SA)
Bangladesh is harvesting a bumper production from stress tolerant rice varieties © IRRI (CC BY-NC-SA)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including a bumper harvest for Bangladesh from stress tolerant rice varieties, news that plant production could decline as climate change affects soil nutrients, and Autralia’s Minister for the Environment launches a new sustainability app for farmers.

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Update: Plant Health News (23 Oct 13)

New survey reveals role of botanical gardens in achieving food security © Craig Elliott (CC BY-NC-ND)
New survey reveals role of botanical gardens in achieving food security © Craig Elliott (CC BY-NC-ND)

Here’s a taste of some of the latest stories about plant health, including the role of botanic gardens in food security,  how grazers and pollinators shape plant evolution and a new soil testing kit designed for smallholder farmers.

Click on the link to read more of the latest plant health news!
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