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Archive for the ‘Climate change’ Category

Climate change means farmers in West Africa need more ways to combat pests

by Loko Yêyinou Laura Estelle, The Conversation

worm on corn
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

The link between climate change and the spread of crop pests has been established by research and evidence.

Farmers are noticing the link themselves, alongside higher temperatures and greater variability in rainfall. All these changes are having an impact on harvests across Africa.

Changing conditions sometimes allow insects and diseases to spread and thrive in new places. The threat is greatest when there are no natural predators to keep pests in check, and when human control strategies are limited to the use of unsuitable synthetic insecticides.

Invasive pests can take hold in a new environment and cause very costly damage before national authorities and researchers are able to devise and fund ways to protect crops, harvests and livelihoods.

Early research into biological control methods (use of other organisms to control pests) shows promise for safeguarding harvests and food security. Rapid climate change, however, means researchers are racing against time to develop the full range of tools needed for a growing threat.

The most notable of recent invasive pests to arrive in Africa was the fall armyworm, which spread to the continent from the Americas in 2016.

Since then, 78 countries have reported the caterpillar, which attacks a range of crops including staples like maize and has caused an estimated US$9.4 billion in losses a year.

African farmers are still struggling to contain the larger grain borer, or Prostephanus truncatus Horn, which reached the continent in the 1970s. It can destroy up to 40% of stored maize in just four months. In Benin, it is a particular threat to cassava chips, and can cause losses of up to 50% in three months.

It’s expected that the larger grain borer will continue to spread as climatic conditions become more favorable. African countries urgently need more support and research into different control strategies, including the use of natural enemies, varietal resistance and biopesticides.

My research work is at the interface between plants, insects and genetics. It’s intended to contribute to more productive agriculture that respects the environment and human health by controlling insect pests with innovative biological methods.

For example, we have demonstrated that a species of insect called Alloeocranum biannulipes Montr. and Sign. eats some crop pests. Certain kinds of fungi (Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana), too, can kill these pests. They are potential biological control agents of the larger grain borer and other pests.

Improved pest control is especially important for women farmers, who make up a significant share of the agricultural workforce.

In Benin, for example, around 70% of production is carried out by women, yet high rates of illiteracy mean many are unable to read the labels of synthetic pesticides.

This can result in misuse or overuse of chemical crop protection products, which poses a risk to the health of the farmers applying the product and a risk of environmental pollution.

Moreover, the unsuitable and intensive use of synthetic insecticides could lead to the development of insecticide resistance and a proliferation of resistant insects.

Biological alternatives to the rescue

Various studies have shown that the use of the following biological alternatives would not only benefit food security but would also help farmers who have limited formal education:

  1. Natural predators like other insects can be effective in controlling pests. For example I found that the predator Alloeocranum biannulipes Montr. and Sign. is an effective biological control agent against a beetle called Dinoderus porcellus Lesne in stored yam chips and the larger grain borer in stored cassava chips. Under farm storage conditions, the release of this predator in infested yam chips significantly reduced the numbers of pests and the weight loss. In Benin, yams are a staple food and important cash crop. The tubers are dried into chips to prevent them from rotting.
  2. Strains of fungi such as Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana also showed their effectiveness as biological control agents against some pests. For example, isolate Bb115 of B. bassiana significantly reduced D. porcellus populations and weight loss of yam chips. The fungus also had an effect on the survival of an insect species, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), known as the cotton bollworm. It did this by invading the tissues of crop plants that the insect larva eats. The larvae then ate less of those plants.
  3. The use of botanical extracts and powdered plant parts is another biological alternative to the use of harmful synthetic pesticides. For example, I found that botanical extracts of plants grown in Benin, Bridelia ferruginea, Blighia sapida and Khaya senegalensis, have insecticidal, repellent and antifeedant activities against D. porcellus and can also be used in powder form to protect yam chips.
  4. My research also found that essential oils of certain leaves can be used as a natural way to stop D. porcellus feeding on yam chips.
  5. I’ve done research on varietal (genetic) resistance too and found five varieties of yam (Gaboubaba, Boniwouré, Alahina, Yakanougo and Wonmangou) were resistant to the D. porcellus beetle.

Next generation tools

To develop efficient integrated pest management strategies, researchers need support and funding. They need to test these potential biocontrol methods and their combinations with other eco-friendly methods in farm conditions.

Investing in further research would help to bolster the African Union’s 2021–2030 Strategy for Managing Invasive Species, and protect farmers, countries and economies from more devastating losses as climate change brings new threats.

Initiatives like the One Planet Fellowship, coordinated by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development, have helped further the research and leadership of early-career scientists in this area, where climate and gender overlap.

But much more is needed to unlock the full expertise of women and men across the continent to equip farmers with next generation tools for next generation threats.

Provided by The Conversation 

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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Why African farmers should balance pesticides with other control methods

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Now, an international team of experts is providing a convincing overview of the role of climate change and climatic extremes in driving insect decline.

11-07-2022

Insects need urgent help to survive climate change

ByKatherine Bucko

Earth.com staff writer

While the scientific community has previously warned about an alarming decline in insect populations, not much has been done to address this issue on a global scale. Now, an international team of experts is providing a convincing overview of the role of climate change and climatic extremes in driving insect decline. 

“If no action is taken to better understand and reduce the impact of climate change on insects, we will drastically limit our chances of a sustainable future with healthy ecosystems.” This is the warning from a paper composed by 70 scientists from 19 countries around the world as part of the of the Scientists’ Warning series. 

“Climate change aggravates other human-mediated environmental problems,” said lead author Jeffrey Harvey from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology. “Including habitat loss and fragmentation, various forms of pollution, overharvesting and invasive species.”

Insects play critical roles in many ecosystems, making this problem incredibly urgent, as ecosystem loss is on the rise.

“The gradual increase in global surface temperature impacts insects in their physiology, behaviour, phenology, distribution and species interactions. But also, more and longer lasting extreme events leave their traces,” said Harvey.

While fruit flies, butterflies and flour beetles have the capacity to survive heat waves, they can become sterilized and unable to reproduce. Bumblebees, in particular, are very sensitive to heat, and climate change is now considered the main factor in the decline of several North American species.

“Cold-blooded insects are among the groups of organisms most seriously affected by climate change, because their body temperature and metabolism are strongly linked with the temperature of the surrounding air,” said Harvey.

Insects also play a critical role in supporting the global economy through services such as pollination, pest control, nutrient cycling and decomposition of waste. These vitally important services help to sustain humanity and provide billions of dollars annually to the global economy. 

“The late renowned ant ecologist Edward O. Wilson, once argued that ‘it is the little things that run the world’. And they do!’” said Harvey.

The ability for insects to adapt to global warming is further impacted by human threats such as habitat destruction and pesticides. Heatwaves and droughts can drastically harm insect populations in the short term, making insects less able to adapt to more gradual warming.  

The paper includes solutions and management strategies. Individuals can help by caring for different wild plants, providing food and shelter for insects during climate extremes. Reducing the use of pesticides and other chemicals is also recommended. 

“Insects are tough little critters and we should be relieved that there is still room to correct our mistakes,” said Harvey. “We really need to enact policies to stabilise the global climate. In the meantime, at both government and individual levels, we can all pitch in and make urban and rural landscapes more insect-friendly.”

Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and Earth.com.

By Katherine BuckoEarth.com Staff Writer

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Insects have a weak capacity to adjust their critical thermal limits. Sam England, Author provided (no reuse)

Insects will struggle to keep pace with global temperature rise – which could be bad news for humans

Published: October 3, 2022 11.01am EDT

Author

  1. Hester WeavingPhD Candidate in Entomology, University of Bristol

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Animals can only endure temperatures within a given range. The upper and lower temperatures of this range are called its critical thermal limits. As these limits are exceeded, an animal must either adjust or migrate to a cooler climate.

However, temperatures are rising across the world at a rapid pace. The record-breaking heatwaves experienced across Europe this summer are indicative of this. Heatwaves such as these can cause temperatures to regularly surpass critical thermal limits, endangering many species.

In a new study, my colleagues and I assessed how well 102 species of insect can adjust their critical thermal limits to survive temperature extremes. We found that insects have a weak capacity to do so, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change.

The impact of climate change on insects could have profound consequences for human life. Many insect species serve important ecological functions while the movement of others can disrupt the balance of ecosystems.

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How do animals adjust to temperature extremes?

An animal can extend its critical thermal limits through either acclimation or adaptation.

Acclimation occurs within an animal’s lifetime (often within hours). It’s the process by which previous exposure helps give an animal or insect protection against later environmental stress. Humans acclimate to intense UV exposure through gradual tanning which later protects skin against harmful UV rays.

One way insects acclimate is by producing heat shock proteins in response to heat exposure. This prevents cells dying under temperature extremes.

A ladybird drinking a speck of water on a narrow leaf.
Insects in warmer environments develop fewer spots to reduce heat retention. mehmetkrc/Shutterstock

Some insects can also use colour to acclimate. Ladybirds that develop in warm environments emerge from the pupal stage with less spots than insects that develop in the cold. As darker spots absorb heat, having fewer spots keeps the insect cooler.

Adaptation occurs when useful genes are passed through generations via evolution. There are multiple examples of animals evolving in response to climate change.

Over the past 150 years, some Australian parrot species such as gang-gang cockatoos and red-rumped parrots have evolved larger beaks. As a greater quantity of blood can be diverted to a larger beak, more heat can be lost into the surrounding environment.

A colourful red-rumped parrot perched on a branch.
The red-rumped parrot has evolved a larger beak to cope with higher temperatures. Alamin-Khan/Shutterstock

But evolution occurs over a longer period than acclimation and may not allow critical thermal limits to adjust in line with the current pace of global temperature rise. Upper thermal limits are particularly slow to evolve, which may be due to the large genetic changes required for greater heat tolerance.

Research into how acclimation might help animals survive exceptional temperature rise has therefore become an area of growing scientific interest.

A weak ability to adjust to temperature extremes

When exposed to a 1℃ change in temperature, we found that insects could only modify their upper thermal limit by around 10% and their lower limit by around 15% on average. In comparison, a separate study found that fish and crustaceans could modify their limits by around 30%.

But we found that there are windows during development where an insect has a greater tolerance towards heat. As juvenile insects are less mobile than adults, they are less able to use their behaviour to modify their temperature. A caterpillar in its cocoon stage, for example, cannot move into the shade to escape the heat.

Exposed to greater temperature variations, this immobile life stage has faced strong evolutionary pressure to develop mechanisms to withstand temperature stress. Juvenile insects generally had a greater capacity for acclimating to rising temperatures than adult insects. Juveniles were able to modify their upper thermal limit by 11% on average, compared to 7% for adults.

But given that their capacity to acclimate is still relatively weak and may fall as an insect leaves this life stage, the impact is likely to be limited for adjusting to future climate change.

What does this mean for the future?

A weak ability to adjust to higher temperatures will mean many insects will need to migrate to cooler climates in order to survive. The movement of insects into new environments could upset the delicate balance of ecosystems.

Insect pests account for the loss of 40% of global crop production. As their geographical distribution changes, pests could further threaten food security. A UN report from 2021 concluded that fall armyworm populations, which feed on crops such as maize, have already expanded their range due to climate change.

A damaged corn crop following an attack by fall armyworms.
The fall armyworm is a damaging crop pest which is spreading due to climate change. Alchemist from India/Shutterstock

Insect migration may also carry profound impacts on human health. Many of the major diseases affecting humans, including malaria, are transmitted by insects. The movement of insects over time increases the possibility of introducing infectious diseases to higher latitudes.

There have been over 770 cases of West Nile virus recorded in Europe this year. Italy’s Veneto region, where the majority of the cases originate, has emerged as an ideal habitat for Culex mosquitoes, which can host and transmit the virus. Earlier this year, scientists found that the number of mosquitoes in the region had increased by 27%.

Insect species incapable of migrating may also become extinct. This is of concern because many insects perform important ecological functions. Three quarters of the crops produced globally are fertilised by pollinators. Their loss could cause a sharp reduction in global food production.

The vulnerability of insects to temperature extremes means that we face an uncertain and worrying future if we cannot curb the pace of climate change. A clear way of protecting these species is to slow the pace of climate change by reducing fossil fuel consumption. On a smaller scale, the creation of shady habitats, which contain cooler microclimates, could provide essential respite for insects facing rising temperatures.

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Scientists warn of ‘insect apocalypse’ amid climate change

insect egg
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

An emerging “insect apocalypse” will have radical effects on the environment and humankind, an Australian scientist has warned.

An international study on the future of insects under climate change scenarios has found the loss of insects will drastically reduce the ability of humankind to build a sustainable future.

Co-author William Laurance, of James Cook University in Australia, said the biosphere had already warmed by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since industrialization. It is projected to warm a further 2–5 degrees Celsius by 2100 unless greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.

An insect’s small body size and inability to regulate their own body temperature made them particularly susceptible to changing temperature and moisture levels, Laurance said in a Tuesday statement.

“A growing body of evidence shows many populations of insects are declining rapidly in many places. These declines are of profound concern, with terms like an emerging ‘insect apocalypse’ being increasingly used by the media and even some scientists to describe this phenomenon,” Laurance said.

“The loss of insects works its way up the food chain, and may already be playing an important role in the widespread decline of their consumers, such as insect-eating birds in temperate environments.”

Insects are important parts of biodiversity and provide services to the wider environment—including pollination, pest control and nutrient recycling—all of which are beneficial to other creatures, including humans, Laurance said.

The study found climate change amplified the effects of other factors threatening insect populations, such as pollution, habitat loss and predation.

“It’s essential to manage and restore habitats that make them as ‘climate-proof’ as possible and enable insects to find refuges in which they can ride out extreme climatic events,” Laurance said.

“The evidence is clear and striking. We need to act now to minimize impacts on insect populations—we know how to do it, but the decision making and requisite funding keep getting pushed down the road,” Laurance added.

2022 dpa GmbH.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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Temperate insects as vulnerable to climate change as tropical species

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Heightened weed burden could mean growers need to replace inundated crops

24 Oct 2022

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Frontdesk / Arable

As a result of the summer’s prolonged drought, some early-drilled winter wheats are facing a heightened weed burden after the dry conditions have prevented pre-emergence herbicides from working effectively. That’s according to Mike Thornton, head of crop production for agronomy firm ProCam, who urges growers to assess affected fields to determine if the current crop should be retained or sprayed off and re-drilled.

 “Despite being a distant memory, the summer’s dry and hot conditions are still having an effect on the new cycle of cereal crops,” Mr Thornton explains. “Some wheats which were drilled ahead of schedule or on lighter land have suffered from a lack of soil moisture, which has prevented soil-acting pre-emergence herbicides from working to the best of their ability. As a result, some winter cereals are currently facing heightened competition from out-of-control weeds which, in the most severe cases, could threaten the crop’s viability and profitability.”

 Mr Thornton therefore recommends that each field should be assessed on a case-by-case basis to decide if the current crop, or part of it, should be sprayed off and re-drilled, either with a replacement winter crop, or with a subsequent spring crop.

 “Where the weed burden is excessive or contains difficult-to-control competitors such as black-grass, ryegrass and brome, it could be quite an easy decision to make. For example, if grass weeds have made it to the two-leaf stage or beyond, they will be very difficult to control as most contact herbicides have been rendered ineffective by mounting resistance.

 “In the most severe cases, it will make sense to admit defeat sooner rather than later and to write-off the current crop so that weeds can be burned off ahead of a replacement crop being established.”

 For many growers, Mr Thornton says it’s still not too late to get a replacement winter crop into the ground. For others, deferring to a spring-sown cropping strategy might be the better option.

 “In both cases, growers should be aware of the restrictions imposed by certain active ingredients on replacement crops. The best approach is to seek definitive advice from your agronomist and, where necessary, to implement a ‘plan B’ sooner rather than later.”

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October 14, 2022 

Cambria Finegold 

World Food Day: How can data science and modelling help smallholders adapt to climate change?

By Cambria Finegold, Global Director Digital Development, CABI 

Data science and modelling are relatively new concepts when it comes to farming. For centuries, smallholders have carefully passed down agricultural skills from generation to generation. They depended on this knowledge. And stable seasons and weather meant this information remained relevant for years. 

However, climate change has brought with it erratic conditions. New scenarios are forcing family farmers to abandon the techniques they have shared. Unexpected droughts, floods and changes in temperature destroy their crops. But they lack the knowledge to address the unpredictability. 

For example, in a +2°C environment, aphids can reproduce an extra five generations each year. The pest problems that smallholders face are becoming overwhelming. How do they adapt to a rapidly changing and unstable environment? Digital technology is helping to answer this question. 

The benefits of data science and modelling 

Data science and modelling offer a solution. These dynamic new fields in agricultural technology are helping farmers to adapt. As climate change contributes to an increasingly uncertain future, they support decision-making. They show how environments are changing and how pests are spreading. But they also reveal how to address these problems. 

From managing invasive species to strengthening plant health systems, high-quality data helps farmers. It can advise them on pest management, crop and variety choices, and the timing of agricultural tasks. Data modelling supports decisions that farmers must make around all of these things. 

Furthermore, data science and modelling help smallholders make more sustainable farming choices, for example, decisions around natural, sustainable pest control. Farmers can use technology to address climate change and protect the environment simultaneously. 

At the heart of this technology are predictive models. These models help smallholders understand what might happen – tools to navigate uncertainty. What happens in a cooler or warmer year? What agricultural practices can they employ to protect crops from drought or flood? What must they do today to safeguard tomorrow? 

Data science and modelling can make a big difference to smallholders. Farmers face conditions that do not make sense to them anymore. Technology can help guide them through the uncertainty. 

PRISE and data science and modelling 

One concrete example of this is the Pest Risk Information SErvice (PRISE). It is an early-warning information system that provides farmers with alerts. These alerts notify the farmers of the best times to take action to protect their crops. The service builds resilience to climate shocks by supporting preventative measures.  Since 2017, the service has reached over 1.8 million farmers in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia. 

PRISE is showing remarkable success. The service held a phone survey following the 2019-20 short rains season in Kenya. It focused on smallholders receiving alerts about the fall armyworm pest. And it showed that 60% of smallholders reported changing their farming practices based on the alerts’ recommendations.  

The PRISE consortium is examining how it can expand from its focus on plant pests. Could it grow to a risk warning system that delivers information about weather risks? Can it expand to include a strong climate change angle? 

Using a data science and modelling in hybrid advisory services 

While technology is important, we must also combine it with on-the-ground support. Once a farmer has received new information, they will often need help implementing it. Hybrid approaches that combine technology with face-to-face advice are often more effective than digital-only approaches. For this reason, we must invest in agricultural advisory services

How we deliver information is essential. Farmers might be dismissive of advice given over text messages. Or the service might provide the recommendations in the farmer’s second language and might, therefore, be unclear. Agricultural advisory services can discuss any question the farmer has. They can support the move from traditional information delivery to technology. They can help to manage the perceived risks that farmers might have. 

Data science and modelling have a vital role to play in modern farming. They can help smallholders to grow more crops and safeguard their livelihoods. And they can help them adapt to climate change. Technology can provide solutions when traditional systems no longer give the farmers the answers they need. It provides a little more certainty in an uncertain world. 

Data scienceFood securityPRISEWorld Food Daymodeling

Agriculture and International Development


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The Guardian

Plants damaged by extreme temperatures are most at risk of disease, Royal Horticultural Society says

Honey Fungus on an oak trunk.
Honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) is ‘the most destructive fungal disease in the UK’, the RHS says. Photograph: FLPA/Alamy

Summer’s prolonged droughts and extreme heat have made plants more susceptible to problems such as fungi and insects this coming autumn, the Royal Horticultural Society has warned.Plants stressed or damaged by the heat are most at risk of disease, but the charity’s experts say gardeners should also look out for specific plants that are typically more vulnerable such as tomatoes.

Tomato growers may be noticing more blight than other years and the RHS advises those worried to “pick off green tomatoes and leave them to ripen on a windowsill”.The changing seasons are also expected to lead to more mildew. “Mildew can look bad but it’s nothing to panic about for gardeners,” said the RHS. “Gardeners can pick off the worst affected leaves and ensure plants are watered but not saturated.”

Honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) is described by the RHS as the “most destructive fungal disease in the UK” and is expected to cause greater devastation than usual this autumn after summer’s exceptionally hot weather left plants more vulnerable. It can be deadly to plants, spreading underground to attack and kill the roots, before causing the dead wood to decay.With no chemical able to control the spread, the RHS advises gardeners to improve plant resilience by maintaining good plant health, making sure plants grow “in suitable conditions” and watering young plants less often but more thoroughly.The UK’s record-breaking summer temperatures have also given rise to the glasshouse thrip, a tiny insect that can thrive in greenhouses.Generally found in hot and dry conditions, this species of thrip has increasingly been able to survive in the south of the UK as the climate heats up.Although the insects often do not cause noticeable damage, a garden infestation can cause mottling or spread plant viruses. Symptoms to look out for include silvery discoloured leaves, marked with small brown-red spots caused by the insects’ excrement. Worried gardeners should note that thrips can be controlled by natural garden predators, including the bug Orius laevigatus.Sara Redstone, the biosecurity lead at RHS, said: “One of the best ways to maintain healthy plants year round is to let nature help in your garden. Gardens can play an important role in climate resilience and gardeners can maximise this by selecting and planting species which tolerate weather extremes in their local conditions.“These resilient plants will be less stressed by the increasingly frequent harsh conditions we expect to see under climate change, and therefore stand a better chance of surviving disease.”

There can be no more hiding, and no more denying. Global heating is supercharging extreme weather at an astonishing speed. Guardian analysis recently revealed how human-caused climate breakdown is accelerating the toll of extreme weather across the planet. People across the world are losing their lives and livelihoods due to more deadly and more frequent heatwaves, floods, wildfires and droughts triggered by the climate crisis.At the Guardian, we will not stop giving this life-altering issue the urgency and attention it demands. We have a huge global team of climate writers around the world and have recently appointed an extreme weather correspondent. Our editorial independence means we are free to write and publish journalism which prioritises the crisis. We can highlight the climate policy successes and failings of those who lead us in these challenging times. We have no shareholders and no billionaire owner, just the determination and passion to deliver high-impact global reporting, free from commercial or political influence.And we provide all this for free, for everyone to read. We do this because we believe in information equality. Greater numbers of people can keep track of the global events shaping our world, understand their impact on people and communities, and become inspired to take meaningful action. Millions can benefit from open access to quality, truthful news, regardless of their ability to pay for it. 

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 Grahame Jackson

PestNet

 Sydney NSW, Australia

 For your information

 18 days ago

Insects struggle to adjust to extreme temperatures making them vulnerable to climate change

ScienceDailySource:University of BristolSummary:As more frequent and intense heat waves expose animals to temperatures outside of their normal limits, an international team has studied over 100 species of insect to better understand how these changes will likely affect them.Insects have weak ability to adjust their thermal limits to high temperatures and are thus more susceptible to global warming than previously thought.

As more frequent and intense heat waves expose animals to temperatures outside of their normal limits, an international team led by researchers at the University of Bristol studied over 100 species of insect to better understand how these changes will likely affect them.

Insects — which are as important as pollinators, crop pests and disease vectors — are particularly vulnerable to extreme temperatures. One way insects can deal with such extremes is through acclimation, where previous thermal exposure extends their critical thermal limits. Acclimation can trigger physiological changes such as the upregulation of heat shock proteins, and result in changes to phospholipid composition in the cell membrane.

Read on: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/09/220913183113.htm

 Climate_change

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Contribute to CABI’s new Plant Health Cases

Real-life examples of plant health in practice. 

About Plant Health Cases

Fresh green soy plants on the field in spring. Rows of young soybean plants . High quality photo

CABI, together with Editors in Chief Lone Buchwaldt, David B. Collinge, and Boyd A. Mori is embarking on a new type of online publication called Plant Health Cases.

Plant Health Cases will be a curated, peer-reviewed collection of real-life examples of plant health in practice. This will be an invaluable resource for students, lecturers, researchers, and research-led practitioners. We will be developing cases in all areas relevant to plant health, including:

  • plant diseases
  • plants pests
  • weeds
  • environmental factors
  • agronomic practices
  • diagnosis, prevention, monitoring and control
  • international trade and travel

What is a Case Study?

A Plant Health Case is a relatively short publication with a well-defined example of research in plant health, e.g. a study which results in reduced impact from a disease or pest problem. Cases should be between 3000 and 5000 words long, and can include photos, figures and tables. They should be written in an engaging style that is both science-based and accessible using a limited number of references. Importantly, each case should suggest points for discussion to broaden the reader’s horizon, inspire critical thinking and lead to interactions in the classroom or field.

Interested in Contributing to Plant Health Cases?

We are currently looking for contributions of case studies, and we welcome your ideas! You may have existing case study material ready prepared for use in teaching, or a good example of research in plant health which could be easily adapted to our template. For further information and guidance on how to submit your idea for a case study please see here: https://www.cabi.org/products-and-services/plant-health-cases/

Your submission will be peer-reviewed, and a DOI assigned at the time of publication similar to your other scientific publications. The corresponding author will receive £100 upon acceptance of the final case study. 

Publication Plan

We’re aiming to launch Plant Health Cases in mid-2023. Our case studies will offer practical, real-life examples in one easily searchable platform. All users will be able to search, browse and read summaries of case studies. Full text access will be available via individual or institutional subscription, or by purchasing a single case study.

Further Information

Please get in touch with Rebecca Stubbs, Commissioning Editor, CABI

r.stubbs@cabi.org

About CABI

CABI is a not-for-profit, scientific research, international development and publishing organisation. Unlike other publishers, we use our surpluses to support scientific and rural development projects that help improve the lives of the world’s poorest people, which means that by publishing with us, you are helping to improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. Please visit our website at www.cabi.org

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GENERAL NEWS

Biotech will mitigate food insecurity – OFAB

Published 4 days ago

on July 4, 2022

By NNN 

 Open Forum on Agricultural bio technology Nigeria OFAB an International Organisation has urged Nigerians to embrace bio technology to mitigate issues around climate change and ensure food security in the country Dr Rose Gidado Country Director OFAB Nigeria said this at the sideline of the science hangout organised by the Alliance for Science Nigeria ASN on Monday hellip

Open Forum on Agricultural bio-technology, Nigeria (OFAB), an International Organisation, has urged Nigerians to embrace bio-technology to mitigate issues around climate change and ensure food security in the country.

Dr Rose Gidado, Country Director, OFAB Nigeria, said this at the sideline of the science hangout, organised by the Alliance for Science Nigeria (ASN) on Monday in Abuja.

She said the meeting was to discuss “the status of genetically modified food” and how best to deploy bio-technology to ensure food security in Nigeria.

Gidado explained that conventional Agriculture might be failing due to a lot of reasons related to climate change, including incessant high rise in temperature, gully erosion and desert encroachment.

“Also, we have other environmental reasons why conventional agriculture is failing; the oil spillage, insecurities on our farms and a lot more.

“Bio-technology has been adopted in Nigeria, a seed launch was held last year in Kano and farmers are testifying to greater yields and one of the economic benefits is 20 per cent yields increase per hectare.

“With the use of this technology, we are saving Nigeria N16 billion, which is normally used to import cowpeas; these crops undergo rigorous testing, making them safer for consumption compared to organic crops,” she added.

According to her, what makes genetic modification unique is its flexibility to adopt desired genes from donor plants and input into a crop aimed at improving given best desired results and helping also with resistance in certain crops.

Also, Prof. Hamzat Lawal, , Follow The Money, said that although GM- crops were facing issues around conspiracy theories, there were data and evidences to show that the technologies were straightforward science.

“Six million people in Nigeria go to bed hungry on a daily basis; the issue of food insecurity is at a critical stage globally.

“That’s why the bio-technology innovation is here to stay; it is an intervention that will save us from food shortage in the country.

“Until now, there were debates around climate change too; people will naturally reject what they don’t know because there is no trust yet which is only expected.

“The best we can do is to educate the public and carry out more sensitisation on this technology that will change a lot of things and ensure we eat safer food,” he added.

NewsSourceCredit: NAN

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Safeguarding Plant Immunity against Climate Change

June 30, 2022

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Credit: Andreas Rockstein licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Heat waves increase the vulnerability of plants to infectious diseases by compromising their immunity. Short periods of high temperatures suppress the production of a defense hormone in plants called salicylic acid, although the mechanism has remained unclear, until now.

In an article published on June 29, 2022, in the journal Nature, “Increasing the resilience of plant immunity to a warming climate” scientists led by Duke University biologist Sheng-Yang He, PhD, claim to have identified a gene in plant cells that explains why immunity falters with rising heat, and demonstrate optimizing the expression of this gene could restore the production of salicylic acid and bolster immunity in plants against heat waves. The investigators conducted their experiments on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. If their findings in this model hold in crops, it would go a long way to ensure food security in a warming world, said He.

Earlier studies from He’s team has shown even brief heat waves can have a dramatic effect on hormone defenses in Arabidopsis, leaving them more prone to infection by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. Under normal ambient temperatures, salicylic acid levels increase nearly seven-fold upon infection, but when temperatures rise above 86°F, the plant can no longer produce enough of the defense hormone, and the infection spreads.

“Plants get a lot more infections at warm temperatures because their level of basal immunity is down,” He said. “So we wanted to know, how do plants feel the heat? And can we fix it to make plants heat-resilient?”

Earlier studies from other labs had identified plant proteins called phytochromes that act as thermometers and trigger growth and flowering in spring. He and his colleagues wondered whether phytochromes played a role in suppressing plant immunity as temperatures rise.

To answer this question, He’s team infected mutant plants with continuously active phytochromes and normal plants with P. syringae bacteria and grew them at 73 and 82°F. They found phytochrome mutants, like normal plants, still couldn’t make enough salicylic acid when temperatures rose.

The team spent several years testing other thermoregulatory genes but could not identify any that made plants resilient to infections in hot weather. This led the authors to conclude that suppression of salicylic acid production in Arabidopsis at high temperatures is independent of genes that regulate heat-responsive plant growth and development, such as phytochromeB and early flowering 3.

They then adopted next-generation sequencing to compare gene expression in infected Arabidopsis plants at normal and elevated temperatures and found many genes that were suppressed at high temperatures were regulated by a gene called CBP60g. CBP60g is a master switch that controls many other genes, including genes that produce salicylic acid.

In-depth analysis revealed heat impairs the molecular machinery that decodes CBP60g. The investigators demonstrated, Arabidopsis with continuously active CBP60g maintained adequate levels of salicylic acid and were resilient against bacterial infections even when exposed to heat.

However, constant activation of CBP60g can stunt plant growth. Therefore, the researchers optimized the regulation of the genetic master switch such that it turned on only under attack. He said, “These results could be good news for food supplies made insecure by climate change.”

In addition to Arabidopsis, He’s team found that increased temperatures also decreased salicylic acid defenses in tomato, rapeseed and rice. The team is currently restoring CBP60g gene activity in rapeseed and has seen promising results.

In addition to regulating the production of salicylic acid, CPB60g activity also protects other immunity-related genes against heat. “We were able to make the whole plant immune system more robust at warm temperatures,” He said. “If this is true for crop plants as well, that’s a really big deal because then we have a very powerful weapon.”

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