You are here: Home / biocontrol / Page 2

Evaluating the mycoherbicide potential of a leaf-spot pathogen against Japanese knotweed

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.

Identifying the origin of yellow floating heart, Nymphoides peltata

Yellow floating heart, Nymphoides peltata, was introduced in North America in the late 19th century as an ornamental plant. Since its introduction, it has steadily spread and been repeatedly introduced across the United States and parts of Canada. Where introduced, yellow floating heart can outcompete native vegetation and phytoplankton, and reduce oxygen in the water. In this project, CABI is helping to identify which area(s) in Eurasia Nymphoides peltata was introduced from to North America and is conducting surveys for potential European biological control agents.

Biological control against the invasive Comstock mealybug in the Swiss orchards

A new invasive pest of particular concern to Switzerland’s orchard industry is the Comstock mealybug, Pseudococcus comstocki. Originating from Asia, the Comstock mealybug was first detected in 2016 in fruit crops of the Swiss canton of Valais. Following its detection, the mealybug has caused significant local economic damage to apricot, pear and apple production, especially during 2018 and 2019. Chemical control is one way of helping to fight the pest but it has produced mixed, and often, insufficient results. Biological control is another method and this project, therefore, aims to develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly, biological control method for the Comstock mealybug.

Saving Tristan’s only native tree and its associated unique buntings

Invasive non-native species are a major threat on oceanic islands due to their vulnerability and endemism, typical of island ecosystems. On Tristan da Cunha, a remote group of islands in the South Atlantic, Brown soft scale, (Coccus hesperidum), an invasive alien scale insect, has infested Tristan’s only native tree, Phylica arborea; and is now threatening the extinction of one of Britain’s rarest bird species, Nesospiza buntings. There is, therefore, an urgent need to find an appropriate method to mitigate the impact of the scale insects and prevent the total collapse of the Phylica forest. The aim of this project is to select and safely test suitable biocontrol agents to reduce scale numbers below a damaging threshold and safeguard Tristan’s endemic buntings.

Helping to achieve sustainable agriculture in Myanmar

The agriculture sector in Myanmar is predominantly dominated by rice. It is a key commodity for domestic food security as well as a generator for export income, and in the future could have the potential to become a global rice supplier. However, Myanmar is susceptible to crop losses from pests, disease and insecticide misuse. CABI is working with scientists in Myanmar to promote green agriculture practices.

Proactive biocontrol of Spotted Lanternfly

The spotted lanternfly is an Asian polyphagous pest that feeds on more than 70 plants by sucking the sap out of from leaves, stems and trunks. It was found in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since expanded its geographical distribution. The damage caused by the pest, its sugary excrement and sooty mold has been devastating for the Pennsylvania wine industry – reportedly causing a 90% grape loss.