Hi-tech farming robot sets about to weed parsnip field

The Robotti is an autonomous tractor which navigates with a satellite-guided accuracy of within 2 cm. It uses attachments for farm operations such as seeding, weeding and spraying. The Danish-built robot is being trialled at Frederick Hiam, a Brandon-based fresh produce business with farms in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The farms are growing root vegetables including parsnips, potatoes and onions.

Managing director Jamie Lockhart said he wanted to explore mechanised weeding as a way to reduce herbicide use within a ‘more preventative approach to weed control’. “We offered a 40-hectare block as part of the trial,” he said. “The Robotti has drilled [planted] the parsnips on this block and weeded them on several passes. Initially it was about getting confidence in the accuracy and reliability of a fully autonomous system. In this regard the machine hasn’t put a foot wrong and, on several occasions, we left the machine running all night whilst weeding, and the accuracy was perfect.”

Autonomous Agri Solutions will be demonstrating the Robotti machine at the Agri-Tech Week REAP Conference in Cambridgeshire on November 8, 2022.

Source: edp24.co.uk

Photo source: Agrointelli

Publication date: Wed 26 Oct 2022

Growers can use a test kit to detect ToBRFV before plants even shows signs

Knowing, for sure, that your crop is infected before the plants show signs. Growers have wanted that since the Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (TOBRFV) reared its ugly head. And preferably quickly, too. This summer, the Dutch company Spark Radar launched a grower test kit for that. Growers can use it to detect, with high reliability and within three hours, whether their crop is contaminated.

According to Spark Rader’s co-founder, Rogier van der Voort, its virus test’s reliability and sensitivity can well well-compared to that of a PCR test. “However, you don’t have to send our test’s samples to a service lab. That saves considerable time – crucial when detecting and containing a possible outbreak.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, he and Bas Rutjens, who founded Spark Genetics, put their heads together. That company has been supporting breeding companies with genetics issues since 2018. “When the pandemic began, the laboratory had to partially close. We started asking ourselves how we could offer the market something that was much needed. That had to be a reliable, sensitive pathogen test that anyone could perform on-site,” says Rogier.

Testing before symptoms show
The test works pre-symptomatically, meaning you can test for the virus’ presence early. Rogier draws a parallel with COVID-19. “You can now do a self-test for that. But, that’s an antigen test you use when you’re already showing symptoms.” In the case of the coronavirus, for example, a runny nose.

One of the ToBRFV’s symptoms is spots on the fruit or signs on leaves. “Antigen tests, however, aren’t as reliable as PCR tests, and their lower sensitivity means they don’t work pre-symptomatically. You can also only test two to three plants at once,” Rogier explains.

Leaf material
Currently, growers can test 60 plants at a time using Spark Radar test kits. Testing can be done in three ways. “We started with leaf samples. A piece of leaf the size of a fingernail is enough. Growers collect the leaf sample in a bag we provide, and once collected, testing can begin.”

The test kits include the test material and hardware so that growers can run the tests themselves. “We’ve developed equipment to read the tests. We use magnetic and sensing racks for that. The magnetic rack lets us extract the virus from the sample, which helps ensure our tests’ high sensitivity,” Van der Voort continues.

A part of the test kit. The white container is lined with magnets. Detection is done using a different rack.

Surface and water tests
Growers, however, prefer to test more than just leaf material. “There’s plenty of market demand for swab tests too, which allows for testing for the presence of the virus on things like carts or blades. It’s like the cotton swab you use in your throat and nose when doing a COVID-19 self-test.”

They developed a third testing protocol for water. “Growers can test for the ToBRFV in, say, their drainage system,” Rogier elaborates. These last two testing methods are currently in their final market introduction stages. “We’re fully in the testing phase for these new applications and are using trial feedback to make the swab and water test kits are durable as possible.” The company plans to market these two testing kits in December commercially.

Spark Radar also wants to start offering the kits internationally, and this fledgling company has taken the first steps toward that. “A large North American party has been using our test for several months. They want to deploy it more widely during the next harvest period. We have a commitment from a Dutch party with overseas farms too. They want to use our tests outside the Netherlands,” states Rogier.

A virus test must be reliable. The test kits, thus, include a clear manual (you can also watch an online video). For now, it is in Dutch and English, but the company wants to include other languages as well. “We’re currently focusing on producing the tests. We’ve gained new clients after presenting the test at a recent event.”

Testing for other pathogens
ToBRFV is undoubtedly receiving global attention. That begs the question: Does Spark Radar have the clout to help growers combat this virus? Spark Radar’s co-founder thinks so. “We were recently chosen to participate in the Foodvalley and government investment fund, InvestNL’s Fast Lane program. We had to give an answer to what’s needed to become even more influential, scale up and maintain our test’s current and projected speed.”

That speed does not only apply to the ToBRFV but to other plant viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Spark Radar is also working on a test kit for cucumber fur virus and Pepino mosaic virus in tomatoes. “Those will be similar tests to the ToBRFV ones,” concludes Rogier.

For more information:
Rogier van der Voort
Spark Radar
8 Padualaan
3584 CH, Utrecht, NL
Email: rogier@sparkgenetics.com 
Email: info@sparkradar.bio 
Website: www.sparkradar.bio

Publication date: Fri 25 Nov 2022

Saturday, 19 November 2022 15:31:49

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Effect of marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) on soil microbial communities in continuously cropped tobacco fields’


Effect of marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) on soil microbial communities in continuously cropped tobacco fields

Nature Scientific Reports

Scientific Reports volume 12, Article number: 19632 (2022) Cite this article


Root-knot nematode disease is a catastrophic soil-borne disease in tobacco production. The regulation of natural microbial communities is considered a good disease management approach to suppress the incidence of soilborne diseases. In this study, the effects of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.)-marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) rotation on the diversity and structure of soil microbial communities in continuously cropped tobacco fields were analyzed to manage this devastating pathogen. The results showed that the soil bacterial OTUs increased after marigold rotation and that the bacterial Shannon, ACE, Chao1 index, and fungal Shannon index were higher in the tobacco-marigold rotation fields than in the continuously cropped tobacco fields by 3.98%, 10.37%, 5.46%, and 3.43%, respectively. After marigold rotation, the relative abundances of Actinobacteria, Acidobacteria, and Ascomycota increased by 28.62%, 107.50%, and 57.44%, respectively, and the proportion of beneficial bacterial genera such as NocardioidesGemmatimonas, and Bradyrhizobium increased. In addition, our results also showed that rotation of marigold could effectively reduce the incidence of root-knot nematodes in the next crop of tobacco. These results indicate that marigold rotation had a positive effect on the soil microecological environment of continuously cropped tobacco fields, reducing the obstacles to continuous cropping of tobacco.

Read on: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-23517-x

Insect DNA barcoding results delight UniSC entomologist

  • Education
  • 14 Nov 2022 2:18 pm AEST

University of the Sunshine Coast

Insect DNA barcoding results to be released publicly today show exciting progress in the tri-state Insect Investigators project, coordinated across regional Queensland by a UniSC entomologist.

“I’m absolutely blown away by the results to date, and by the enthusiasm of school students and teachers to engage in insect research,” said insect ecology researcher Dr Andy Howe of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Forest Research Institute.

Seventeen Queensland schools (listed below) are among 50 schools involved in the ongoing citizen science project, led by the South Australian Museum.

Only about 30 percent of the estimated 225,000 insect species in Australia are formally named and described.

Thousands of new insects have now been successfully recorded in the project, which connects regional and remote school students with researchers to learn about Australia’s rich biodiversity.

Beerwah State High School was among those that set a Malaise trap on their grounds in March to collect and monitor local insects over a four-week period. It was one of many that Dr Howe has visited across the state to provide updates on insect species through the taxonomic process.

“It makes so much sense to engage our schools in research on insect taxonomy; schools are located throughout many environment types, which means they can collect a huge diversity of insects, simultaneously,” Dr Howe said.

“We can then use the data to not only name undescribed species, but importantly contribute to distribution maps of thousands of insects and spiders, which contributes to managing the environment sustainably.”

Overarching project leader Dr Erinn Fagan-Jeffries said more than 14,000 insect specimens were selected to be DNA barcoded by the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at The University of Guelph in Canada, and today the DNA barcoding results will be released.

Dr Fagan-Jeffries said DNA barcoding involved sequencing a small section of the genome and using the variation among these barcodes to discriminate species.

“While the gold standard is always going to be identifying and describing insects using DNA data in combination with their physical characteristics, the DNA barcodes provide a fast and cost-effective way of shining a light on the remarkable diversity of insects in Australia that we know so little about,” she said.

Through Insect Investigators, participating schools have added more than 12,500 new DNA barcodes to the international online repository, the Barcode of Life Database.

The variation among these barcodes suggests that there are more than 5,000 different species present among the specimens, and just over 3,000 of those are brand new records on the database.

Each of these DNA barcodes relates back to an individual insect specimen that will be deposited in the entomology collections at the South Australian Museum, Queensland Museum and the Western Australian Museum.

Taxonomists from around Australia will then be able to examine and determine if they represent undescribed species.

“It is highly likely that all contributing schools have found species new to Western science which is really exciting, but how many of these species we are actually able to describe is dependent on the resources and support available for taxonomy,” said Dr Fagan-Jeffries.

“Despite there currently being many more insect groups than taxonomists, we are hopeful that the taxonomists will be able to spot some new species that can be described, and in those cases, the students will then be invited to name the unique species that they have discovered.”

Participating Queensland schools:

  • ​Back Plains State School
  • ​Beerwah State High School
  • ​Belgian Gardens State School
  • ​Blackall State School
  • ​Cameron Downs State School
  • ​Columba Catholic College
  • ​Gin Gin State High School
  • ​Glenden State School
  • ​Kogan State School
  • ​Mornington Island State School
  • ​Mount Molloy State School
  • ​Prospect Creek State School
  • ​Springsure State School
  • ​St Patrick’s Catholic School, Winton
  • ​Tamborine Mountain State School
  • ​Yeppoon State High School
  • ​Yeronga State School

Dr Howe, whose PhD in 2016 examined an exotic ladybird in Denmark, said students enjoyed the information in his talks, designed to be entertaining as well as inspiring.

He said increasing Australia’s knowledge of its insect species could have benefits ranging from better management of the environment and effects of climate change and natural disasters to controlling pests and developing new medicines.

The DNA barcoding results will be released on the website https://insectinvestigators.com.au.

Insect Investigators received grant funding from the Australian Government, is led by the South Australian Museum, and involves 17 partner organisations.

Feel the Vibe: Study Shows Spotted Lanternflies Sense Acoustic Stimuli


In a new lab study, spotted lanternflies moved toward the source of a nearby 60-hertz vibration. Further field experiments could reveal whether “vibrational trapping” might be a new tool for managing the invasive pest. Spotted lanternflies are known for massing on tree trunks and other surfaces. Chemicals released by the insects’ honeydew may help trigger these conventions. The new research suggests that vibrations may also play a role. (Photo by Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org)

By Ed Ricciuti

Ed Ricciuti

The world of insects is filled with communicative vibrations, some good, some bad. The sound of a male cricket rubbing its wings together, carried through the night air, is good news to females in the mood to mate. Not so the vibrations of an ant struggling in the sandy trap of a hungry antlion larva—for the ant, at least. Like the antlion, an estimated 200,000 species of insects can sense vibrational messages traveling though the ground, water, plants, and other substrates. And, according to new research published in October in the Journal of Economic Entomology, the invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) may also be one of them.

Researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have found that spotted lanternflies actively respond to substrate-borne vibrational signals broadcast during laboratory experiments. That may be good news for pest managers, who increasingly see acoustic signals as a way to control pests while reducing the use of chemical agents. Research into the role of substrate vibrations on behavior of lanternflies could enable scientists to “develop better tools that rely on modulating their behaviors (attraction, repulsion) for survey, detection, and control,” says Miriam F. Cooperband, Ph.D., entomologist at the USDA Forest Pest Methods Laboratory in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, who designed the experiment.

Some insects deliberately produce vibrations, like the cricket’s chirp. Others, like those from a trapped ant, are incidental. Either way, substrate-borne messages can trigger aspects of insect behavior such as mating, predation, avoiding predators, or foraging. Understudied, the role of vibrations that use substrates as a channel for insect communication is receiving increasing interest from researchers, including its potential to modify insect behavior for integrated pest management (IPM).

Pest control researchers are working feverishly to come up with effective IPM for the spotted lanternfly. Since its arrival in Pennsylvania in 2014, the lanternfly (really a planthopper in the infraorder Fulgoromorpha) has spread to more than a dozen other states. With its piecing-sucking mouthparts, it can reach and swill the sap out of more than 100 different plant species, from grapes to hardwoods. The feeding damage significantly stresses the plants, which can lead to decreased health and potentially death.

As the lanternfly feeds, it excretes sugary glop called honeydew, which makes a gooey mess, attracts bees and wasps, and promotes the growth of sooty mold, a gross blanket over ornamental plants, patio furniture, cars, and anything else on which it grows. The honeydew problem is aggravated when lanternflies congregate, as they commonly do.

In a study of how spotted lanternflies (Lycorma delicatula) respond to acoustic stimuli, individuals were placed at the center of a circular surface with a 60-hertz tone broadcast nearby. In these charts, open circles show where the individual lanternflies moved and reached the edge of the circle, and red lines indicate the average direction of all individuals observed. (Length of the red lines indicates magnitude of the average direction as a proportion of the circle radius; the maximum magnitude of the full radius would be obtained if all insects exited the test circle at the same angle.) (Image originally published in Rohde et al 2022, Journal of Economic Entomology)

Spotted lanternflies are becoming famous—or, rather, infamous—for gathering like flash mobs, massing on tree trunks and backyard furniture, even ending up in people’s clothing and entering buildings. Chemicals released by honeydew may help trigger these lanternfly conventions. The new research suggests that vibrations may also play a role in these get-togethers, which occur prior to mating. Their egg masses, which adhere even to the tires of vehicles, enable the spotted lanternfly to travel well.

After hatching, a lanternfly goes through four instars, or stages in nymph development. Nymphs as well as adults attack plants. The USDA experiments were conducted on fourth instars and adults, both of which have receptors on their bodies that sense substrate vibration. Results showed that both were attracted to and walked purposefully toward broadcasts of 60-hertz (Hz) vibroacoustic stimulus. This frequency, the so-called “60-cycle hum,” can interfere with audio equipment. During the experiments, volume was set below the range of human hearing.

The nuts-and-bolts experiments were conducted by USDA technician Isaiah Canlas, alone in a room due to pandemic precautions, with equipment designed by Cooperband, who with the other authors analyzed the results. Lanternflies were placed in an arena floored by white paper atop a plywood platform covered by tulle fabric. The observer was hidden. When the vibrations were broadcast, the insects clustered toward the signal, dispersing when it stopped.

Based on their findings, the USDA team suggests next conducting field studies to monitor vibrations in trees where lanternflies are congregating and mating. Eventually, such studies could perhaps lead to development of what pest control managers call “vibrational trapping.”

Read More

Evidence of Receptivity to Vibroacoustic Stimuli in the Spotted Lanternfly Lycorma delicatula (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae)

Journal of Economic Entomology

Ed Ricciuti is a journalist, author, and naturalist who has been writing for more than a half century. His latest book is called Bears in the Backyard: Big Animals, Sprawling Suburbs, and the New Urban Jungle (Countryman Press, June 2014). His assignments have taken him around the world. He specializes in nature, science, conservation issues, and law enforcement. A former curator at the New York Zoological Society, and now at the Wildlife Conservation Society, he may be the only man ever bitten by a coatimundi on Manhattan’s 57th Street.



Got Spotted Lanternfly Eggs on Your Tree? Send ‘Em Through the Wood Chipper

June 20, 2018

The Spotted Lanternfly: An Invasive Insect that is Beautiful but Threatening

December 4, 2014

Spotted Lanternfly: States Urge Citizens to Report Sightings of Invasive Insect Hitchhiker

NOVEMBER 17, 2022

Salt-tolerant bacteria ‘can fight fungal attacks on chili’

by K.S. Harikrishnan, SciDev.Net

<img src="https://scx1.b-cdn.net/csz/news/800a/2022/salt-tolerant-bacteria.jpg&quot; alt="Salt-tolerant bacteria ‘can fight fungal attacks on chili’ " title="Antagonism exhibited by Bacillus cabrialesii strain MPSK 109 against fungal phytopathogens. a, Rhizoctonia solani; b, Pythium aphanidermatum; c, Fusarium oxysporum; d, Fusarium pallidoroseum. Credit: <i>Phytotherapy Research
Antagonism exhibited by Bacillus cabrialesii strain MPSK 109 against fungal phytopathogens. a, Rhizoctonia solani; b, Pythium aphanidermatum; c, Fusarium oxysporum; d, Fusarium pallidoroseum. Credit: Phytotherapy Research (2022). DOI: 10.1002/ptr.7660

Salt-tolerant bacteria found in salt pans can be used to contain fungal attacks on chili (Capsicum annuum), a major export crop of India, according to a new study published this month.

India, the largest grower, consumer and exporter of chillies in the world, is estimated to have produced in the 2021—2022 fiscal year 1.87 million tons, widely used to spice food. Thailand and China are also major producers.

According to the study, conducted by researchers at Goa University, salt-tolerant bacteria can be deployed to counter fungal pathogens that flourish as a result of increasing soil salinisation. This can lead to better nutrient management and improved yields, the researchers say.

“Among abiotic (non-biological) factors, soil salinisation is the most detrimental and considered a significant limiting factor of agricultural productivity and food security,” says Savita S. Kerkar, an author of the study and senior professor of bio-technology at Goa University.

“Halophilic (salt-loving) and halotolerant (salt-tolerant) microorganisms from solar salt pans are known to produce several secondary metabolites (substance needed for metabolism and plant growth) which can be exploited for various applications,” Kerkar tells us. “That is why researchers decided to evaluate the potentiality of halotolerant salt-pan bacteria in this study.”

Manasi Pawaskar, co-author of the study, says that while several kinds of bacteria have been reported as potential bio-control agents, there were no previous studies on the application of salt-pan bacteria against fungal pathogens in chili plants.

“In this study, about 196 bacteria isolated from salt pans in Goa, were screened for their antifungal activity. Halotolerant isolates of six types of bacteria could grow under a wide range of pH (acidity or alkalinity level), temperature and NaCl (salt) concentrations, thus demonstrating their ability to survive and proliferate in the varying dynamics of the soil,” Pawskar said.

First introduced to Asia by 16th century Portuguese and Spanish explorers, chili cultivation has spread to all continents, especially the C. frutescens,or chili pepper, and C. annuum,which includes the bell pepper, cayenne, friggitello, jalapeños, paprika, and serrano varieties.

Research published in October says that apart from its use as a spice, chili is also an ingredient in many traditional medicine systems. “The fruits of C. annuumhave been used as a tonic, antiseptic, and stimulating agent, to treat dyspepsia, appetites, and flatulence, and to improve digestion and circulation,” says the study in Phytotherapy Research.

Anoop Kuttiyil, researcher in plant pathology and assistant professor at Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College, in Kozhikode, southern India, tells us that chili pepper is rich in bioactive compounds and has natural ingredients of value to the agro-food, cosmetic and pharma industries. “But, chili is susceptible to several fungal pathogens that affect crop yield. These include Cercospora capsici and Alternaria solani that damage the leaves and Colletotrichum sp. that causes fruit rot in chili.”

Kuttiyil, who was not involved in the study, said, “Management of these fungal diseases is often difficult due to conducive environment and lack of prophylactic measures and the study offers potential for bacterial bio-control agents that can compete with pathogens as well as promote crop growth, especially in extreme saline soil conditions.”

More information: Sudip Kumar Mandal et al, Capsicum annuum L. and its bioactive constituents: A critical review of a traditional culinary spice in terms of its modern pharmacological potentials with toxicological issues, Phytotherapy Research (2022). DOI: 10.1002/ptr.7660

Provided by SciDev.Net

Explore further

Examining how plants steer clear of salt

A gene from 28 million years ago protects today’s plants against caterpillars

Date:November 15, 2022Source:eLifeSummary:The defense mechanisms plants use to recognize and respond to a common pest — the caterpillar — has arisen from a single gene that evolved over millions of years, according to a new report.Share:


The defence mechanisms plants use to recognise and respond to a common pest — the caterpillar — has arisen from a single gene that evolved over millions of years, according to a report published today in eLife.

The study finds that some plants, such as soybeans, have lost this protective gene over time, and suggests that breeding plants or genetically engineering them to reintroduce the gene could protect against crop failure.

The health status of a plant depends on the immune system it inherits. In plants, this means inheriting certain types of pattern recognition receptors that can recognise distinct pathogens and herbivore-derived peptides, and trigger an appropriate immune response.

“Inheriting the right types of pattern recognition receptors can allow plants to recognise threats and cope with diseases and pests,” explains lead author Simon Snoeck, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Biology, University of Washington, US. ” Although we know many pest-derived molecules which activate immune responses in plants, our knowledge of how plants evolved the ability to sense new threats is limited.”

To address this gap, the team set out to define the key evolutionary events that allowed plants to respond to a common threat — the caterpillar. It was already known that species in a group of legumes — including mung beans and black-eyed peas — are uniquely able to respond to peptides produced from the mouths of caterpillars as they munch through plant leaves. So they looked at the genomes of this group of plants in depth to see whether a common pattern recognition receptor called the Inceptin Receptor (INR) had changed over millions of years, gaining or losing the ability to recognise caterpillars.

They found that a single, 28-million-year-old receptor gene perfectly corresponds with the plant immune response to the caterpillar peptides. They also found that among the descendants of the oldest plant ancestors that first evolved the receptor gene, a few species that could not respond to the caterpillar peptides had lost the gene.

To understand how this ancient gene acquired the ability to recognise new peptides from today’s pathogens, the team employed a technique called ancestral sequence reconstruction where they combined information from all modern-day receptor genes to predict the 28-million-year-old original sequence. This ancestral receptor was able to respond to caterpillar peptides. However, a slightly older version with 16 changes in the receptor sequence could not.

This genetic history, together with computer models showing how the ancient and current receptor structures may have differed, provide clues to how the receptor evolved. It suggests that there was a key insertion of a new gene into the ancestral plant’s genome more than 32 million years ago, followed by rapid evolution of diverse forms of the new receptor. One of these forms acquired the ability to respond to caterpillar peptides, and this new capability is now shared in dozens of descendant legume species.

“We have identified the emergence and secondary loss of a key immunity trait over plant evolution,” concludes senior author Adam Steinbrenner, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biology, University of Washington. “In the future, we hope to learn more about genome-level processes that generate new receptor diversity and identify as-yet unknown immune receptors within plant groups. As increasing genomic data becomes available, such approaches will identify ‘missing’ receptors that are useful traits to reintroduce into plants to help protect crops.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by eLifeNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Simon Snoeck, Bradley W Abramson, Anthony G K Garcia, Ashley N Egan, Todd P Michael, Adam Steinbrenner. Evolutionary gain and loss of a plant pattern-recognition receptor for HAMP recognitioneLife, 2022; 11 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.81050

Cite This Page:

eLife. “A gene from 28 million years ago protects today’s plants against caterpillars.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/11/221115113928.htm>.

NOVEMBER 16, 2022

Functions of transcription factors in maize resistance to insects and jasmonate signaling revealed

by Zhang Nannan, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Maize (Zea mays) is an important food, feed, and bioenergy crop that plays a pivotal strategic role in food security, while insect pests seriously affect the yield and quality of maize. Benzoxazinoids (BXDs) and volatile terpenes are insect-resistant defensive compounds in maize. BXDs are toxic to insects and they directly inhibit insect growth and development, and volatile terpenes attract the natural enemies of herbivorous insects.

Previous studies have shown that jasmonic acid (JA) treatment can promote the accumulation of BXDs and volatile terpenes in maize, but the underlying molecular mechanisms were unknown.

A research team led by Prof. Wu Jianqiang at the Kunming Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KIB/CAS) has elucidated the functions of maize MYC2s in JA-mediated insect defense response by means of genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and bioinformatics.

According to the researchers, compared with the wild-type maize plants, the maize mutants, in which MYC2s were knocked out, were highly susceptible to the insects Mythimna separata and Spodoptera frugiperda.

The maize MYC2s mutants also showed a feminized tassel phenotype. Thus, MYC2s regulate maize insect resistance and sex determination of tassels. The researchers further demonstrated that maize MYC2s positively regulate the biosynthesis of BXDs and volatile terpenes, and the RNA-Seq and CUT&Tag-Seq analyses also revealed the regulatory landscape of maize MYC2s.

Moreover, they identified seven transcription factors that are physically targeted by MYC2s and they are likely involved in regulating the biosynthesis of BXDs.

This study provides important new insight into the molecular mechanisms of insect resistance and JA signaling in maize.

This work was published in the Journal of Integrative Plant Biology entitled “ZmMYC2s play important roles in maize responses to simulated herbivory and jasmonate.”

More information: Canrong Ma et al, ZmMYC2s play important roles in maize responses to simulated herbivory and jasmonate, Journal of Integrative Plant Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13404

Provided by Chinese Academy of Sciences 

Lauren Quinn University of Illinois

URBANA, Ill. – Septoria brown spot may be considered the “common cold” of soybean diseases, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely benign. The fungal disease can cause 10 percent to 27 percent yield loss. Many farmers fight it by using fungicide, but a new University of Illinois study shows Septoria can actually increase after fungicide application.

“When we applied the fungicide, most of the fungi on plant surfaces decreased,” said Santiago Mideros, an assistant professor in the department of crop sciences at the University of Illinois and co-author of the study. “But a few of the fungi increased, Septoria among them. It was very surprising.”

Led by Heng-An Lin, a former crop-sciences doctoral student, the study was designed to identify and track the soybean mycobiome – the collection of fungi living on soybean plants – in field conditions.

Lin and Mideros inoculated half the soybean seedlings in their field trials with Septoria. Then using genetic information and bioinformatics analyses, they identified fungal species on leaves throughout the season before and after applying fungicide.

“We chose a mixture of fluxapyroxad and pyraclostrobin fungicides because it’s quite commonly used in the Midwest,” Mideros said. 

The fungicide controlled many fungi, but not Septoria. It removed Septoria’s competitors, allowing the pathogen to flourish, Mideros suggested. The result calls into question the common practice of yield-protective fungicide application.

“We know – based on previous research – that when we spray a lot of fungicide, such as every week, Septoria symptoms are kept in check and yield increases,” he said. “But that application frequency isn’t feasible for farmers. This study is a closer approximation of what producers actually do, with one to three applications during the season.

“I’m not saying fungicide wouldn’t increase yield in some fields. It might. But what I’m learning from the study is that we don’t know exactly what we’re doing when we apply fungicides to protect yield. We need to learn more about the unintended effects of chemical applications. We could be doing things more effectively if we had a better understanding of all the changes to the systems when we do a fungicide application.”

Although there are still questions whether producers should shelve fungicide when battling Septoria, the study provides a look at how the soybean mycobiome interacts. The researchers identified 3,342 distinct fungi on the three soybean lines they studied. Some were pathogenic and others were beneficial. There were still more whose effects on soybeans haven’t been characterized.

Knowing what fungi are on each soybean line and how they interact could pave the way for future disease-fighting tools, such as biocontrol agents.

“One of the things we were trying to address with the analysis was to see which fungi are associated with each other,” Mideros said. “If we found patterns where one fungus seemed to have a suppressive effect on another, it could be used as a biocontrol agent. We did find some negative associations but not many and, unfortunately, none with Septoria. But there are several organisms that have a negative association with other fungi, so it’s something we could study further.

“There’s a lot of interest in finding more sustainable management practices. It could come in the form of biofungicides or manipulations of the mycobiome that could result in less disease and greater yields. There’s a world of hidden microorganisms associated with crops into which we could tap.”

The study was published in Phytobiomes. Visit apsjournals.apsnet.org and search for “Septoria and fungicide” for more information.

 Grahame Jackson


 Sydney NSW, Australia

 For your information


New film aims to educate community on wide ranging impacts of Myrtle rust

Mirage News

A new film showcasing the wide-ranging impacts of the tree fungus Myrtle rust across Australia’s native environment hopes to generate better community awareness about the disease.

Myrtle rust, which now affects more than 380 Australian native species, is having significant cultural, social and ecological effects on Australia’s native environment – with at least 16 species predicted to become extinct within a generation.

The film has been produced through a combined NSW, Queensland and Commonwealth government-funded initiative, and draws on stories of Indigenous rangers, scientists and landowners’ experiences about the disease’s impact on our precious species and landscapes.

NSW DPI Forestry’s Leader Forest Health and Biosecurity, Dr Angus Carnegie, said the film’s important message included the work carried out to date to future proof vital ecosystems.

“So much effort has gone into managing this destructive disease, and by educating the community, they too can play a part in our control efforts,” he said.

“In the film we learn about efforts to bring species back from the brink of extinction and the value of protecting our unique ecosystems from biosecurity threats for generations to come.

“Time is very short for some species that are severely impacted by Myrtle rust, but there are meaningful conservation actions that can still be taken.

Dr Carnegie said the impacts of myrtle rust on Indigenous Communities are broader than just ecological and industry values as Country, Culture and Community are all connected.

He said global interconnectedness is increasing the risk of new threats to Australia’s irreplaceable biological heritage – exotic plant and animal diseases to which native Australian biota may have no adaptive resistance.

“Some of these diseases are broad-spectrum, affecting many native species.

“Myrtle rust is a threat of this type. This plant disease, caused by an introduced fungal pathogen, affects plant species in the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae), which includes paperbarks, tea trees, eucalypts, and lillypillies. These are key, and often dominant, species in many Australian ecosystems.”

People interested in seeing the film, which was launched nationally this week can see the trailer here, and the full film here here.

Partners in the film initiative include: NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Department of Planning and Environment (Saving Our Species), Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Plant Biosecurity Science Foundation, Butchulla Land and Sea Ranger, San Diego Zoo, and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.


  • Myrtle rust, caused by the exotic fungus Austropuccinia psidii, is native to South America. It was first detected in Australia in April 2010 in NSW, spreading rapidly to other parts of Australia.
  • The disease affects plant species in the family Myrtaceae and attacks new growth, with symptoms developing quickly on new shoots, and young leaves and stems.
  • Myrtle rust is already affecting more than 380 Australian species, with sixteen species predicted to become extinct within a generation and many more are in decline.
  • A National Action Plan for Myrtle Rust in Australia identifies the priority research and actions needed to tackle the environmental impacts of the pathogen

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.



Sunday, 06 November 2022 09:58:58


Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Banana freckle eradication plan to continue ‘


Banana freckle eradication plan to continue

Mirage News

NT Government
The Northern Territory’s plant biosecurity team will continue with a plan to eradicate banana freckle following its detection on a second commercial property.

Members of the plant biosecurity team from the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade met with the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests on Wednesday where it was agreed that it was still feasible to eradicate the disease.

The team will now redraft a Response Plan for approval by the National Management Group later this month.

The detection of banana freckle on the second commercial property triggered a review of the response plan.

As a result, the plant biosecurity team will continue with its work to remove banana plants from infected properties.

So far infected plants have been removed from 14 properties. There have been 48 total banana freckle detections since May, of which 42 are located in the Batchelor and Rum Jungle region.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.