lant microbiomes are the microbial communities essential to the whole ecological area of a plant’s ‘phytobiome’ – a term used to describe a plant’s specific ecological area. Having a healthy phytobiome is critical to crop health, improved crop yields and quality food. However, crop microbiomes are relatively under-researched. The UK Crop Microbiome Cryobank project will develop a unique, exploitable and integrated resource that will provide the biological and bioinformatic tools to enable the development of solutions to improve soil and crop health. Six of the UK’s key crops will be the focus and usable outputs will underpin UK research activity in line with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) strategic priorities in agriculture and food security. The project will support three of the UN’s Sustainable-Development Goals: Zero Hunger, Responsible Consumption, and Production and Life on Land.
Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive weed that impacts severely on native biodiversity and local infrastructure in its introduced range. Whilst chemicals are currently used to control the weed, this approach is costly and unsustainable. Biological control is an alternative method. The damaging leaf-spot fungus, Mycosphaerella polygoni-cuspidati, which attacks the plant in its native range was found not to be suitable as a classical biocontrol agent. However, the pathogen is considered to hold potential as a mycoherbicide. The aim of this project is to undertake proof-of-concept research into a potential mycoherbicide, in collaboration with the private industry.
Cat’s claw creeper is a vigorous vine native to tropical Central America and northern South America. Introduced into Australia for ornamental purposes, this troublesome liana escaped cultivation and is now regarded as a significant environmental weed.
It is projected that food demand will more than double by 2050 due to climate changes. Food security in Pakistan is particularly reliant on its ability to produce wheat and rice, however, an invasive species of weed, the “Famine Weed” (Parthenium hysterophorus), has been identified as a critical threat to agriculture and human prosperity in Pakistan.
Invasive plant pathogens represent a threat to US agriculture, forestry and the environment. Accurate information on these pathogens is required to help prevent their introduction and spread. The Plant Pathogens Subcommittee of the US Federal Interagency Committee on Invasive Terrestrial Animals and Pathogens (ITAP) has identified the worst plant pathogen threats to the USA. CABI is commissioning the compilation of data on these plant pathogens to be published as full datasheets in the Invasive Species Compendium [www.cabi.org/isc] (an open access global resource currently containing over 10,000 datasheets).