Fresh Plaza














Puerto Rico is readying control and eradication protocols after the first-ever detection on the island of the Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most destructive agricultural pests.

Hector Cordero, president of the Puerto Rico Farmers Association, told Efe that the initiative is a response to the appearance in the southwestern municipality of Cabo Rojo of two Mediterranean flies, long present in the nearby Dominican Republic.

The Puerto Rico government is receiving advice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on control and eradication measures.

“The goal is to prevent the impact of pests such as the coffee rust or the banana black sigatoka that in the 1990s caused damage to the Puerto Rican agriculture,” Cordero said, adding that the lack of timely action in the face of the previous pests may have been a factor in their spread.

Francisco Aponte, Puerto Rico’s deputy agriculture secretary, said USDA officials detected the flies during an inspection last month.

The pest can damage tomato, mango, avocado, coffee, papaya and cantaloupe, all of which are cultivated in Puerto Rico, Aponte said.

Authorities in Puerto Rico have established contact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to obtain approval for the use of the recommended pesticides.

Source: http://www.laht.com

Publication date: 4/13/2015







“Nothing has changed” for Katherine melon grower after virus declared impossible to eradicate
NT Country Hour By Daniel Fitzgerald

A Katherine melon grower says “nothing has changed” for his farm after the Northern Territory Government declared a plant virus cannot be eradicated.

The Department of Primary Industry (DPI) recently stepped back from trying to eradicate Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus (CGMMV), opting instead for a management program.

The virus, which affects cucurbits like melons, pumpkins, zucchini, squash and cucumbers, was found to have spread from quarantine zones and is now confirmed on 21 properties across the Northern Territory.

Mitchell Curtis grew melons near Katherine until his farm was found to be infected with the virus and put under quarantine restrictions last year.

While the DPI is still putting together a formal plan for management, Mr Curtis said as far as he understands, the move to management will not change anything for his farm in the short term.

“Basically for us, nothing has changed,” he said.

“Most of it is structural at this stage and once they work that out, we might be able to plant crops, not cucurbits, but plant crops here in 12 months.

“Going from eradication, to management leaves a lot of questions to be answered, like whether we can send [cucurbits] down south from an area that’s been infected, what we have to do to stay clean if we do grow here; all those sorts of things to put certainty back into our orchard, so that we can actually grow melons again, all have to be answered.

“It may take us around 12 months to do that, to go and liaise with other states and work on the problem [of] whether or not we can grow in areas and stay clean with some protections in our growing process, or whether we can’t.”

The Territory’s Minister for Primary Industry, Willem Westra van Holthe, confirmed last week Northern Territory farmers growing cucurbits on land not infected with CGMMV are still able to sell their produce interstate with a Plant Health Certificate.


Mr Curtis said the declaration that CGMMV cannot be eradicated ensured the nature of the Northern Territory melon industry has changed irreversibly.

“I think there’s some big questions over Territory melons, I think that’s to do with people not understanding what this virus is,” he said.

“There are a lot of viruses in melons, this is another virus that we have to learn to manage.

“Once we’ve learnt how to do that and the fear has gone out of what this virus does and how it can affect our growing processes and all those things, I think the name of the melon industry in the Territory will be just as strong as it has been.”

Mr Curtis leased a plot of land from the Northern Territory Government to grow melons on this year, but to his “absolute horror” he found the land was already infected with CGMMV.

“It certainly indicated the problem we thought we had under control was not,” he said.

“It put some big question marks as to how it got there and what’s spreading it as [the land is] about 40 kilometres from the infected area on Fox Road and its about 30 kilometres from [the infected area at] Edith Farms.”

However Mr Curtis said he believes the virus can be safely managed and controlled.

“We’ve got to keep the thing in perspective so that we understand that small areas in the Northern Territory are infected, but there’s a lot of other areas that are quite safe to grow melons and deliver them with no virus,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t taint the whole Territory.”

Farmers Weekly


Adam Clarke
Tuesday 7 April 2015 14:27

Poppies in barley© Tim Scrivener

There is evidence to suggest that broad-leaved weeds are becoming more difficult to control, but the true extent of herbicide resistance in the UK is currently unknown.

To try and uncover how widespread the problem is, advisory body Adas is conducting a survey and invites growers and advisers to share their experiences.

Adas weed specialist Lynn Tatnell says that much of the evidence that resistance is on the rise is anecdotal and in many cases hasn’t been confirmed by seed testing.

“It might be the case that it isn’t as widespread as people fear, but we need a better understanding of the situation in the field.

“To do that, we need to reach out to as many people as possible who have to control broad-leaved weeds in their rotation – arable or otherwise,” says Mrs Tatnell.

Practical advice
Adas’s James Clarke adds that without gaining a better picture of how easy or difficult certain species of broad-leaved weeds are to control, it will be difficult to provide best practice advice to growers in the future.

At present, herbicide resistance is confirmed in mayweed, chickweed and poppy, but there may be more resistant species out there as many growers rely on a single ALS-inhibiting mode of action to control broad-leaved weeds.

“We need to hear from those that aren’t having a problem, as well as those that are.

“In the second phase of the survey we would like to investigate any problems further on the respondent’s farm and confirm whether it is herbicide resistance or there are other factors involved,” explains Mr Clarke.

By taking part in the short survey, you could give yourself a chance of winning one of 25 bottles of malt whisky.

weed biocontrolCourtesy of University of Idaho University of Idaho entomology professor Mark Schwarzlander sits with the new, 838-page “Biological Control of Weeds: A World Catalogue of Agents and Their Target Weeds.” Researchers worked with 125 experts around the globe and incorporated the outcomes of 2,083 scientific papers.
A University of Idaho researcher has updated a catalog of biocontrols and biocontrol releases after 16 years

Courtesy of University of Idaho University of Idaho entomology professor Mark Schwarzlander sits with the new, 838-page “Biological Control of Weeds: A World Catalogue of Agents and Their Target Weeds.” Researchers worked with 125 experts around the globe and incorporated the outcomes of 2,083 scientific papers.
A University of Idaho researcher has updated a catalog of biocontrols and biocontrol releases after 16 years.

Researchers have updated a catalog of insects and other species used to control weeds.
The catalog includes more than 2,000 releases of biocontrol agents such as insects, mites, fungi and nematodes that naturally feed on specific weeds.
The catalog details what has been done in the last 110 years around the world, said University of Idaho entomologist Mark Schwarzlander, who worked on the book.
Using skeletonweed as an example, he said the catalog shows what was done in Australia during the 1970s and 1980s, and what might work elsewhere. The catalog also shows whether a biocontrol agent worked in controlling a weed and why.
“In a way, it’s an encyclopedia for our specific field of entomology or weed science,” Schwarzlander said. “It is, in weed control, the most cited document ever.”
The publication, titled “Biological Control of Weeds: A World Catalogue of Agents and Their Target Weeds,” is used by researchers around the world.
Farmers may contact extension or land-grant university researchers with questions about biocontrol agents for a specific weed or use the catalog online.
“So many people, really pretty much everybody who has worked with biocontrol, has contributed to the catalog,” he said.
The catalog was first assembled in the 1970s. In about 2008, Schwarzlander and a former graduate student decided to assemble a new edition.
The catalog is about 60 percent new data. During the years between editions, Schwarzlander said, the number of biocontrol agents increased from roughly 340 to 580, and the number of target weeds increased from 230 to roughly 340. The number of countries using biocontrol of weeds increased from 75 to 130.
Schwarzlander hopes to link the online resource with a field guide to biocontrol agents in the Northwest that was published last fall, which includes photos of weeds and biocontrol agents, so farmers can identify both.
He plans to update the catalog every five years.

Article courtesy of PestNet

GM rice



New GM Rice Shows Improved Disease Immunity
09 April 2015



US – Rice disease immunity can be improved by transferred genes from other species, according to new research from the University of California-Davis.

Rice is well equipped with an effective immune system that enables it to detect and fend off disease-causing microbes.

However, the new study showed that immunity can be further boosted when the rice plant receives a receptor protein from a completely different plant species via genetic engineering.

Lead author Benjamin Schwessinger, a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology, said: “Our results demonstrate that disease resistance in rice, and possibly related crop species, could very likely be enhanced by transferring genes responsible for specific immune receptors from dicotyledonous plants into rice, which is a monocotyledonous crop.”

Immune receptors are specialised proteins that can recognise patterns associated with disease-causing microbes, including bacteria and fungi, at the beginning of an infection.

These receptors are found on the surface of plant cells, where they play a key role in the plant’s early warning system.

Some of the receptors, however, occur only in certain groups of plant species.

Mr Schwessinger and colleagues successfully transferred the gene for an immune receptor from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the mustard family, into rice.

The rice plants that produced the Arabidopsis immune receptor proteins were more resistant to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, an important bacterial disease of rice.

This demonstrated that receptors introduced to rice were able to make use of the rice plants’ native immune signalling mechanisms and cause the rice plants to launch a stronger defensive immune response against the invading bacteria.

– See more at: http://www.thecropsite.com/news/17505/new-gm-rice-shows-improved-disease-immunity/#sthash.p1mpfiJL.dpuf


logo.png bio protection



Exotic pests and biological control in New Zealand broadacre pasture
Event Date:
Wednesday, 1 April 2015 – 1:00pm
Prof Stephen Goldson
Speaker: Prof Stephen Goldson, Bio-Protection Research Centre Theme leader and Senior Scientist at AgResearch.

Venue: B4, Burns Building, Lincoln University.

Although the literature shows that the loss of pest susceptibility to classical biological control agents is exceedingly rare, there are certain behavioural and ecological criteria that may well predispose to it. Such a critical combination of factors coincides with agroecosystems based on incomplete transplants imported from elsewhere, such as New Zealand pasture. It can be argued that a lack of biodiversity results in low biotic resistance to invasive species, typically resulting in spectacularly high pest densities. Exactly the same sort of thing can happen with introduced parasitoid biological control agents. Again, due to a lack of biotic resistance, very high levels of parasitism can occur, leading to a sense of triumph amongst those who organised the release programme.

However, it now seems that such euphoria may be short-lived. Very high and constant selection pressure on the pest by the control agent may result in the evolution of pest resistance. This is particularly so in ecosystems lacking host refugia. Further, this is made far worse when a parasitoid control agent reproduces parthenogenetically, whereas its host reproduces sexually. This results in an ‘unequal evolutionary arms race’ whereby the weevils have far more capacity to adapt as a result of selection pressure compared to the clonally reproducing control agent.

This talk presents evidence that much of the above is apparently occurring in the control of the Argentine stem weevil by the parasitoid Microctonus hyperodae in New Zealand pastures. If this is correct, such a pattern could also become apparent in other grassland biocontrol systems.


From: PestNet

From the International Newsletter on Plant Pathology

A team of scientists from the John Innes Centre (JIC), the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) and The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) have successfully transferred a receptor that recognises bacteria from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to wheat. They showed that the receptor can trigger a defensive response and confers increased resistance to bacterial disease. The research findings demonstrate that the signalling pathways or circuitry downstream of the receptor are conserved between evolutionary distant monocots and dicots.

Drs Henk-jan Schoonbeek and Christopher Ridout, the lead and corresponding authors of a paper titled ‘Arabidopsis EF-Tu receptor enhances bacterial disease resistance in transgenic wheat’ published in The New Phytologist, first developed diagnostic tools which tests wheat for responses to pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). These PAMPs are often essential parts of fungi or bacteria – they would find it difficult to mutate or lose them without affecting their fitness or survival. Pattern recognition receptors recognise and confer a response to such PAMPs and could contribute to durable resistance. The authors have demonstrated that wheat has the circuitry to respond to these pathogens but not all the antennae required to perceive pathogens most effectively.

The JIC scientists worked with TSL and the crop transformation team at NIAB to transfer a receptor gene, EFR, conferring recognition of the widespread bacterial protein EF-Tu, from Arabidopsis to wheat, and used their diagnostic tools to show that the receptor was functional. EFR works like a new antenna that activates defence elements already present and makes the wheat plants more resistant to bacteria. Since EF-Tu is essential, the authors predict this type of resistance should be durable. EFR was first identified by Professor Cyril Zipfel, Head of TSL, and co-author of the paper. Prof Zipfel pioneered inter-species transfer of PRRs, and recently reported a converse transfer of a monocot PRR to dicot plants, further illustrating the ancient evolutionary conservation of immune signalling between these plant classes.

Bacterial wheat diseases are widespread in Asia and Africa , and present in the USA. The diagnostic tool can be used immediately to help breeders screen seed varieties for PAMP recognition, and therefore resistance to multiple bacterial pathogens.

(EurekaAlert, 11 March 2015)


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