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XX INTERNATIONAL

PLANT PROTECTION CONGRESS

ATHENS, GREECE, 1-5 July, 2024

Members of the local organizing and scientific committee

Kickoff of XX IPPC ATHENS, 1-5 July, 2024

25 November, 2022

Local organizing and scientific committee (LOSC)

In 25 November, 2022, the kickoff meeting of the Local organizing and scientific committee (LOSC) took place at the Agricultural University of Athens (AUA)

Members of the local organizing and scientific committee (LOSC) with  the Chair of XX IPPCAthens2024, Prof. Eris Tjamos, the Vise Rector of AUA I. Chatzipavlidis, the Ex-Vise Rector of AUA Prof. E. Paplomatas and the Member of the Board of the Directors of AUA Prof. D. Tsitsigiannis attended virtually or via a zoom platform the new kick off meeting of the LOSC, which took place at the Agricultural University of Athens. 

The LOSC discussed various organizational matters and exchanged ideas on the scientific programm. The proposals on Plenary and Concurrent Sessions, worked out by several subcommittees during the year, have been already finalized, after taking into account all the proposed suggestions by IAPPS Board members and the members of the Greek organizing and scientific committee.

The proposals were submitted to the IAPPS BOARD for its final evaluation and further instructions.

Prof. Eris Tjamos is in close contact with the General Secretary of IAPPS Prof. Elvis Heinrichs, for continuous consultation and exchange of ideas on various organizational matters of the Congress.

Eris Tjamos,

Chair 

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Combatting soil-borne pathogens and nematodes vital for food security

   Delhi Bureau  0 Comments CIMMYT  9 min read

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08 November 2022, Mexico: The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) coordinated the VIII International Cereal Nematode Symposium between September 26-29, in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies and Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University.

As many as 828 million people struggle with hunger due to food shortages worldwide, while 345 million are facing acute food insecurity – a crisis underpinning discussions at this symposium in Turkey focused on controlling nematodes and soil-borne pathogens causing reduced wheat yields in semi-arid regions.

A major staple, healthy wheat crops are vital for food security because the grain provides about a fifth of calories and proteins in the human diet worldwide.

Seeking resources to feed a rapidly increasing world population is a key part of tackling global hunger, said Mustafa Alisarli, the rector of Turkey’s Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University in his address to the 150 delegates attending the VIII International Cereal Nematode Symposium in the country’s province of Bolu.

Suat Kaymak, Head of the Plant Protection Department, on behalf of the director general of the General Directorate of Agricultural Research and Policies (GDAR), delivered an opening speech, emphasizing the urgent need to support the CIMMYT Soil-borne Pathogens (SBP) research. He stated that the SBP plays a crucial role in reducing the negative impact of nematodes and pathogens on wheat yield and ultimately improves food security. Therefore, the GDAR is supporting the SBP program by building a central soil-borne pathogens headquarters and a genebank in Ankara.

Discussions during the five-day conference were focused on strategies to improve resilience to the Cereal Cyst Nematodes (Heterodera spp.) and Root Lesion Nematodes (Pratylenchus spp.), which cause root-health degradation, and reduce moisture uptake needed for proper development of wheat.

Richard Smiley, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, summarized his research on nematode diseases. He has studied nematodes and pathogenic fungi that invade wheat and barley roots in the Pacific Northwest of the United States for 40 years. “The grain yield gap – actual versus potential yield – in semiarid rainfed agriculture cannot be significantly reduced until water and nutrient uptake constraints caused by nematodes and Fusarium crown rot are overcome,” he said.

Experts also assessed patterns of global distribution, exchanging ideas on ways to boost international collaboration on research to curtail economic losses related to nematode and pathogen infestations.

A special session on soil-borne plant pathogenic fungi drew attention to the broad spectrum of diseases causing root rot, stem rot, crown rot and vascular wilts of wheat.

Soil-borne fungal and nematode parasites co-exist in the same ecological niche in cereal-crop field ecosystems, simultaneously attacking root systems and plant crowns thereby reducing the uptake of nutrients, especially under conditions of soil moisture stress.

Limited genetic and chemical control options exist to curtail the damage and spread of these soil-borne problems which is a challenge exacerbated by both synergistic and antagonistic interactions between nematodes and fungi.

Nematodes, by direct alteration of plant cells and consequent biochemical changes, can predispose wheat to invasion by soil borne pathogens. Some root rotting fungi can increase damage due to nematode parasites.

Integrated managementFor a holistic approach to addressing the challenge, the entire biotic community in the soil must be considered, said Hans Braun, former director of the Global Wheat Program at CIMMYT.

Braun presented efficient cereal breeding as a method for better soil-borne pathogen management. His insights highlighted the complexity of root-health problems across the region, throughout Central Asia, West Asia and North Africa (CWANA).

Richard A. Sikora, Professor emeritus and former Chairman of the Institute of Plant Protection at the University of Bonn, stated that the broad spectrum of nematode and pathogen species causing root-health problems in CWANA requires site-specific approaches for effective crop health management. Sikora added that no single technology will solve the complex root-health problems affecting wheat in the semi-arid regions. To solve all nematode and pathogen problems, all components of integrated management will be needed to improve wheat yields in the climate stressed semi-arid regions of CWANA.

Building on this theme, Timothy Paulitz, research plant pathologist at the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), presented on the relationship between soil biodiversity and wheat health and attempts to identify the bacterial and fungal drivers of wheat yield loss. Paulitz, who has researched soil-borne pathogens of wheat for more than 20 years stated that, “We need to understand how the complex soil biotic ecosystem impacts pathogens, nutrient uptake and efficiency and tolerance to abiotic stresses.”

Julie Nicol, former soil-borne pathologist at CIMMYT, who now coordinates the Germplasm Exchange (CAIGE) project between CIMMYT and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute, pointed out the power of collaboration and interdisciplinary expertise in both breeding and plant pathology. The CAIGE project clearly demonstrates how valuable sources of multiple soil-borne pathogen resistance in high-yielding adapted wheat backgrounds have been identified by the CIMMYT Turkey program, she said. Validated by Australian pathologists, related information is stored in a database and is available for use by Australian and international breeding communities.

Economic losses

Root-rotting fungi and cereal nematodes are particularly problematic in rainfed systems where post-anthesis drought stress is common. Other disruptive diseases in the same family include dryland crown and the foot rot complex, which are caused mainly by the pathogens Fusarium culmorum and F. pseudograminearum.

The root lesion nematode Pratylenchus thornei can cause yield losses in wheat from 38 to 85 percent in Australia and from 12 to 37 percent in Mexico. In southern Australia, grain losses caused by Pratylenchus neglectus ranged from 16 to 23 percent and from 56 to 74 percent in some areas.

The cereal cyst nematodes (Heterodera spp.) with serious economic consequences for wheat include Heterodera avenae, H. filipjevi and H. latipons. Yield losses due to H. avenae range from 15 to 20 percent in Pakistan, 40 to 92 percent in Saudi Arabia, and 23 to 50 percent in Australia.

In Turkey, Heterodera filipjevi has caused up to 50 percent crop losses in the Central Anatolia Plateau and Heterodera avenae has caused up to 24 percent crop losses in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The genus Fusarium which includes more than a hundred species, is a globally recognized plant pathogenic fungal complex that causes significant damage to wheat on a global scale.

In wheat, Fusarium spp. cause crown-, foot-, and root- rot as well as head blight. Yield losses from Fusarium crown-rot have been as high as 35 percent in the Pacific Northwest of America and 25 to 58 percent in Australia, adding up losses annually of $13 million and $400 million respectively, due to reduced grain yield and quality. The true extent of damage in CWANA needs to be determined.

Abdelfattah Dababat, CIMMYT’s Turkey representative and leader of the soil-borne pathogens research team said, “There are examples internationally, where plant pathologists, plant breeders and agronomists have worked collaboratively and successfully developed control strategies to limit the impact of soil borne pathogens on wheat.” He mentioned the example of the development and widespread deployment of cereal cyst nematode resistant cereals in Australia that has led to innovative approaches and long-term control of this devastating pathogen.

Dababat, who coordinated the symposium for CIMMYT, explained that, “Through this symposium, scientists had the opportunity to present their research results and to develop collaborations to facilitate the development of on-farm strategies for control of these intractable soil borne pathogens in their countries.”

Paulitz stated further that soil-borne diseases have world-wide impacts even in higher input wheat systems of the United States. “The germplasm provided by CIMMYT and other international collaborators is critical for breeding programs in the Pacific Northwest, as these diseases cannot be managed by chemical or cultural techniques,” he added.

Road ahead

Delegates gained a greater understanding of the scale of distribution of cereal cyst nematodes and soil borne pathogens in wheat production systems throughout West Asia, North Africa, parts of Central Asia, Northern India, and China.

After more than 20 years of study, researchers have recognized the benefits of planting wheat varieties that are more resistant. This means placing major emphasis on host resistance through validation and integration of resistant sources using traditional and molecular methods by incorporating them into wheat germplasm for global wheat production systems, particularly those dependent on rainfed or supplementary irrigation systems.

Sikora stated that more has to be done to improve Integrated Pest Management (IPM), taking into consideration all tools wherever resistant is not available. Crop rotations for example have shown some promise in helping to mitigate the spread and impact of these diseases.

“In order to develop new disease-resistant products featuring resilience to changing environmental stress factors and higher nutritional values, modern biotechnology interventions have also been explored,” Alisarli said.

Brigitte Slaats and Matthias Gaberthueel, who represent Swiss agrichemicals and seeds group Syngenta, introduced TYMIRIUM® technology, a new solution for nematode and crown rot management in cereals. “Syngenta is committed to developing novel seed-applied solutions to effectively control early soil borne diseases and pests,” Slaats said.

It was widely recognized at the event that providing training for scientists from the Global North and South is critical. Turkey, Austria, China, Morocco, and India have all hosted workshops, which were effective in identifying the global status of the problem of cereal nematodes and forming networks and partnerships to continue working on these challenges.

Also Read: Agriculture and the agricultural economy is the strength of India: Union Agriculture Minister

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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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’

Submission

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

Abstract

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

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Florida researchers get funding to help tomato growers and breeders fight bacterial spot

“It’s really hard to manage this disease”

Florida scientists received a grant to investigate strategies to control bacterial spot in tomatoes. The disease creates major challenges for commercial production throughout Florida and across the United States.

Bacterial spot first affects the leaves of the plant, developing black spots the size of shotgun pellets. Then the leaves blacken and ultimately drop. The fruit is still edible but can develop little blisters, making them practically unmarketable.

The plant pathogen that causes bacterial spot in the southeast is called Xanthomonas euvesicatoria pv. perforans. The “pv.” abbreviation stands for “pathovar” and is used to designate a specialized group of bacteria with the same or similar characteristics within a species.


Courtesy UF/IFAS

Gary Vallad, professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, said the pathogen has been problematic for the tomato industry since the early 1990s because it has developed a tolerance to copper-based pesticides, typically used for managing bacterial diseases.

“This pretty much limited the usefulness of copper, and without using other types of antibiotics, which we don’t use in the field, it’s really hard to manage this disease,” he said.

Hard to peel, hard to process
Other variations of the bacteria can also cause really large lesions, “which makes the tomato hard to peel mechanically, so processors don’t like that either, so that becomes a loss for them as well,” Vallad said.

That means the tomatoes can’t be canned or used for products like ketchup. There’s much that is unknown about the pathogen, Vallad said.

“A lot of that has been limited by our ability to differentiate strains of the bacterium. So, there’s been a lot of recent advances in our tools to be able to discriminate between different species based on sequencing of the pathogen’s genome,” he said.

“We can’t just look at the bacteria and say, ‘this is Bacteria A, and this is Bacteria B.’ This is what we kind of refer to as almost like cryptic species … they all look the same, so we have to actually … use molecular tools to really be able to differentiate between different strains.”

Vallad said he’s now interested in breeding a tomato with more resistance to the bacteria.

“We need to have a better understanding of the composition of that population, so breeders can actually identify resistance within a tomato that will actually cover all the strains or most of the strains,” he said. They also want to trace the movement of the strains throughout tomato production.

“We know different areas we can always find the bacteria, but we don’t know if the bacteria is exactly the same at every point,” Vallad said. “So, we’re trying to understand, to really look at the movement of the of these strains throughout the production system so we can find where in the production system is the best place to manage them.”

Xanthomonas euvesicatoria pv. perforans is also prominent bacterial species threatening tomatoes in the Midwest, Great Lakes, Northeast, and in neighboring areas of Canada, along with Xanthomonas hortorum pv. gardneri.

Thanks to $5.8 million from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Vallad and his team of scientists across Florida and the U.S. will spend the next four years identifying and understanding the different strains of the pathogen to help tomato growers and breeders manage the bacterial spot disease more successfully.

“These types of advancements are not just in this particular disease. It’s really impacting a number of plant diseases, animal diseases and human diseases,” Vallad said. “The exact same technology that was used to understand the COVID virus, we’re using to understand this particular pathogen on tomato.

“And this group of pathogens impact a number of other crops, not just tomato … Other Xanthomonas affect almost every crop we grow in the world. There is a Xanthomonas that can cause disease on it. So, understanding this group of organisms, tomato can be used as a model for other researchers for other crops as well.”

For more information:
WUSF News
www.wusf.usf.edu 

Publication date: Fri 4 Nov 2022

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With Xsect Xtra, Inveragro eliminates pepper pests

Inveragro, located in the valley of San Felipe, Guanajuato, and known for its tradition of producing and drying chili peppers, was having problems with pest control and humidity levels inside the greenhouse. With Xsect Xtra, they were able to reduce the entry of thrips by 50% while increasing their humidity by 15%, resulting in an ideal climate that promotes pepper growth.

Inveragro is a 10-hectare pepper greenhouse that started operations three years ago in the valley of San Felipe, Guanajuato, an area with different challenges for pepper growers due to its semi-arid climate and the presence of insects and pests such as whitefly, thrips, and weevils.

Germán Sandoval Barba, grower at Inveragro, was looking for a climate solution that would help him face these challenges. A year ago, he decided to try Xsect Xtra.

Ideal humid climate = healthier peppers
The pepper is a tropical crop that likes high humidity levels. Ideally the humidity inside a pepper greenhouse should be between 60% and 80%.

During the summer months, humidity inside Inveragro was between 45% and 50%, and it was necessary to keep the windows closed as a way to conserve humidity inside the greenhouse.

“Before installing Svensson’s insect control nets, I was worried that the temperature would rise too much and that it would affect the humidity. Once we tested the nets, the truth is that it was a very positive surprise the results that we had in terms of temperature and humidity”, says Germán Sandoval

Unlike last year when the windows were practically closed, now with Xsect Xtra, the windows are open between 20% and 30%, having a maximum temperature between 32 and 33 degrees. In addition, with Xsect Xtra, the humidity inside the greenhouse increased between 10% and 15%, compared to last year, achieving an ideal humidity between 60% and 75%, which benefits the growth of peppers.

“I thought that I was going to experience disadvantages with this insect control net because, for me, it was more important to sacrifice climate in order to reduce the entry of pests and insects. But to my surprise, I now have a better climate and fewer insects inside the greenhouse,” said Germán Sandoval.

Greenhouses with 50% fewer thrips
One of the biggest challenges for Germán is the entry of pests, and one way to control this problem is through hermeticity. Inveragro has four full-time employees dedicated exclusively to supervising any failure in the hermeticity of the greenhouses. “When I started looking for options to improve our hermeticity, I discovered the Svensson insect control nets, which would help us to improve our conditions,” says Germán Sandoval.

Before installing Xsect Xtra, during the fifth week of the production cycle, thrips were already seen inside the greenhouse, and it was necessary to apply pesticides and/or agrochemicals prior to the release of the biological control. “Now I can release the biological control we use Orius to control thrips, without pesticides and/or agrochemicals applications that could damage the biological control program,” says Germán, “since the installation of Xsect Xtra, 50% fewer thrips have entered the greenhouse”.

Powdery mildew was another climate problem at Inveragro, and it was necessary to apply agrochemicals at least once a week. During the first year with Svensson’s insect control net, Germán continued with the same program, but no powdery mildew was found inside the greenhouse.

“I’ve already modified my program for this year. I’m only going to apply preventive products every 15 days, which reduces by 50% the cost of powdery mildew throughout the year because now I have better climate conditions in terms of humidity, which is more controllable and promotes pepper growth”.

Germán has also noticed improvements in the beneficial program used to control thrips. He used to have 4 Orius per square meter, and this year he only has three orius per square meter, which means savings in this year’s beneficials budget.

“What Xsect Xtra has given me is improved humidity, fewer pests, and reduced phytosanitary diseases.”
 
Finally, Germán shared the following advice for all pepper growers: “I would tell growers who are afraid to try these nets not to be afraid. In the beginning, I hesitated, but it is something that will help them. What it can generate in the climate is minimal and what it can help them in the phytosanitary issue is very broad. The net pays for itself”.

For more information:
Ludvig Svensson

info@ludvigsvensson.com www.ludvigsvensson.com    

Publication date: Mon 14 Nov 2022

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Development of RNAi Enhancers using a yeast-based bio-manufacturing and delivery system and applications as a biopesticide against economically important crop pests in Canada

Biological pest control strategies (bio pesticides) offer promise as non-toxic and environmentally-friendly alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides. The use of RNA-interference as a potential biopesticide has become increasingly attractive due to its highly specific activity against target pest species, non-toxic and biodegradability, but as an emerging technology, has its limitations. This project aims to increase the effectiveness of RNAi as a biopesticides by developing Baker’s yeast which produces different natural RNAi-enhancing molecules along side the RNAi-effector molecules, all inside of the yeast cell. Those yeast cells would be grown up using existing technology and inactivated and applied as a dead yeast cells to crops in the place of conventional chemical pesticides. Insect pests that consume any crop plants covered in the yeast-based biopesticide would be specifically targeted and killed by the RNAi-effectors within those yeast cells. Non-target species would be unharmed due to the highly specific nature of RNAi. The yeast biopesticide, being dead yeast cells, would simply biodegrade in the environment and poses to risk to the environment, ecosystem or human health.

Intern: 

Kateryna Ievdokymenko

Faculty Supervisor: 

Juli Carrillo

Province: 

British Columbia

University: 

University of British Columbia

Partner: 

Renaissance BioScience Corporation

Sector: 

Professional, scientific and technical services

Partner University: 

Discipline: 

Biology

Program: 

Elevate

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October 26, 2022 –  By Lauren Dowdle

Est. reading time: 2:30

Asiatic garden beetle; European chafer; green June beetle; Japanese beetle; typical masked chafer; oriental beetle; Typical May/June beetle, black turfgrass ataenius. (Photo: Ohio State University Extension)

Asiatic garden beetle; European chafer; green June beetle; Japanese beetle; typical masked chafer; oriental beetle; Typical May/June beetle, black turfgrass ataenius. (Photo: Ohio State University Extension)

Grubs can destroy turfgrass roots, cause the lawn to become spongy and make the turf roll back like a piece of carpet. Before beginning treatment to combat this insect and its damage, lawn care operators (LCOs) need to identify the grub species to ensure the best results.

Properly identifying grubs is important because of the differences in the adult flight, mating, egg laying and hatching periods across species.

That information determines the timing of the insecticide application or the control method used, says Edwin Afful, Ph.D., insecticides product development manager for FMC.

“Understanding the biology and insect life cycle is essential to identifying the life stage of the insects and to help understand how best to start scouting and deciding on the appropriate control option,” Afful says.

Common grub species

Grubs have a C-shaped body with three pairs of legs immediately behind their heads. The entire body measures ¼ to 1 inch in length, depending on the species and development stage, Afful says. Depending on the geographic location, there are close to a dozen different beetle species with larval stages that can feed on turfgrass roots.

The most common grubs that LCOs face include the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica), European chafer (Amphimallon majale), masked chafer (Cyclocephala spp.) and oriental beetle (Anomala orientalis). Others include the May/June beetle, Asiatic garden beetle and black turfgrass ataenius.

While the larval stage of many of these species are nearly indistinguishable from one another, the arrangement of hairs on the tip of the abdomen (raster) can help LCOs better identify them as they mature, says Matt Giese, technical services manager for Syngenta.

“This raster pattern widely varies but is a reliable method to identify mature white grubs,” Giese says. (See the different patterns for each in the images below.)

How to control

Common grub management methods include chemical, biological or microbial controls. Treatments that are preventive and target newly hatched or small larvae are the most effective, Giese says.

The application timing for white grub products varies based on their residual lengths and should start before peak adult flight occurs. Operators can check with their local Extension office for information on adult beetle flight occurrences.

“If peak adult flight occurs in early July, for example, treatments should be made prior to this date; potentially up to 45 days before depending on the treatment choice,” Giese says.

Curative treatments usually are applied when grubs are actively feeding and causing damage during the spring or fall.

“If significant lawn damage is taking place or animals are digging in the area where they are active, the grubs may be in their third instar, meaning you’ll need to apply an insecticide that will get to the grub larvae in the soil,” Afful says. “Most of the curative insecticides require watering after the application to maximize their control.”

For biological control of white grubs, insect parasitoid nematodes and heterorhabditis bacteriophora nematodes are good options.

“These nematodes have a short shelf life and need to be applied within the season they are purchased,” Afful says. “The earlier they are applied to the purchase date, the better the control.”

Bacterial and fungal diseases of white grubs present in soils serve as biological control agents, Afful says. Examples include milky spore disease, green fungus and white fungus.

Several treatment options available for grubs will control many of these species as a preventive application.

“So, sequential applications for multiple species are not necessary,” Giese says.

This article is tagged with beetlesFMCgrubsSyngenta and posted in 1022Current IssueFrom the MagazineTurf+Ornamental Care

About the Author: Joey Ciccolini

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Tech TrendsTechnology

Rice farmers to benefit from new herbicide-tolerant rice system technologies

Published October 24, 2022, 7:26 AM

by MB Technews

BASF and Seedworks Philippines Inc. announced the formalization of new licensing agreements for BASF Clearfield® Production System and Provisia® Rice System technologies that will meet the increasing need of direct seeded rice farming method in the Philippines.

Direct seeding – Leyte

Agriculture is not only impacted by climate change, but also responsible for 17%* of total greenhouse gas emissions. Transplanted wet paddy rice farming is a major contributor of field emissions of methane (CH4). The water irrigated fields block oxygen from penetrating the soil, creating ideal conditions for bacteria that are responsible for emitting greenhouse gases.

As part of BASF Climate Smart farming efforts, and in addition to helping farmers control tough weeds, such as resistant grassy weeds and weedy rice, this new licensing agreement between BASF and Seedworks will see both companies working together to develop and commercialize new non-GMO Herbicide Tolerant hybrid rice (direct seeded) systems to increase both productivity and sustainability for rice growers in the Philippines.

“Rice is a primary source of food for us in Asia. There is an estimated 2.4 million rice growers in the Philippines, with a total acreage of 4.8 million hectares and with up to 36%** of rice grown via direct seeded option versus wet paddy. Direct seeded rice uses roughly 50% less water to grow, uses less labor per day compared to wet paddy.” said Simone Barg, Senior Vice President, Agricultural Solutions, Asia Pacific. “With our new partner, Seedworks Philippines Inc., BASF is dedicated to support farmers to decrease their environmental impact and improve farm resilience. Through our innovative rice solutions of Clearfield and Provisia, two herbicide-tolerant seed traits will be introduced to Philippine’s direct seeded rice hybrid systems. By providing an alternative to wet paddy rice, and providing a more advanced option for current direct seeded rice farmers, Filipino rice farmers now gain the benefit of excellent weed control, a reduced footprint of greenhouse gas emissions and a potential increase of their rice crop yield”

Carlos Saplala, President of Seedworks Philippines, Inc. commented that “Food security issue in the Philippines has never been more relevant than today. Helping farmers leverage on this world class technology will not only improve their yields but also their income. We also expect that underutilized areas in the country due to weedy rice will be better maximized through the use of this Clearfield and Provisia technology. This will also redound to helping the current administration’s objective of offering rice at a more affordable price.”

“SeedWorks’ mission is to strive to provide Seed Solutions more than just selling seeds, I am very delighted with this collaboration with BASF bringing in H.T. Tolerant Rice lines, which is in line with our mission. Together we can help the Filipino farmer optimize his cost of cultivation, improve farm productivity and increase his income from the same land. Rice is a staple diet in the Philippines and we are happy that this project is one more step towards addressing the issue of making the Philippines self-sufficient in rice.” said Dr. Venkatram Vasantavada, SeedWorks Philippines, Inc. Chairman and Managing Director of SeedWorks International.

“Farming is the biggest job on earth, and food security is an important topic for the Philippines. Our government, like many other nations, continues in seeking long term solutions for how our growers can increase yields, decrease environmental impact, and enhance farming robustness. BASF’s Clearfield and Provisia rice systems enable more productive and sustainable farming – key levers identified by the United Nations and incorporated in their Sustainable Development Goals. As a leader in agricultural solutions for growers globally, BASF made this a priority and committed to clear and measurable targets to boost sustainable agriculture by 2030. With this licensing agreement and the steps that Seedworks will take to cultivate the hybrids for the Philippine rice industry, we are very optimistic about the future of achieving more sustainable rice farming, with greater weed control, in the Philippines” said Manolo Sambrano, BASF Industry Head, Agriculture -Philippines.

Clearfield and Provisia rice systems by BASF are non-GM crop technologies for rice production developed with traditional plant-breeding techniques. The innovation is best understood as an integration of seed traits and chemistry. The herbicide tolerant traits allow farmers to control a range of weeds through an easy, over-the top application of a targeted ALS-inhibiting herbicide without harming the rice crop. In addition, together they form an integrated weed management tool for farmers and offer farmers a vital tool in fighting weeds, while remaining compatible with no-till methods, that help preserve topsoil. For more information, visit https://agriculture.basf.us/crop-protection/crops/rice.html.

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UMaine News

A photo of a leaf damage
Photo by Sarah Fanning, courtesy of Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt.

Insects cause more damage to leaves in recent history than millions of years ago, study finds 

October 12, 2022 

Insect herbivores have caused more damage to plant matter from leaves in recent history than millions of years ago, according to a new study led by a University of Maine postdoctoral researcher. 

Despite global insect decline and biodiversity loss fueled by human activity, the frequency of leaf damage by insects among forest plants in recent history, post-1955, is more than twice that of vegetation from the Pleistocene, 2.06 million years ago, and the Late Cretaceous period, 66.8 million years ago. The unprecedented increase in insect damage on leaf matter could pose negative effects on plant productivity and forest health.

To conduct their study, Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt, a postdoctoral researcher with UMaine’s Climate Change Institute, and her colleagues collected leaf samples deposited within sediment across three modern forest ecosystems — Harvard Forest in Massachusetts, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, and La Selva in Costa Rica — and compared them to previously published leaf litter and fossil data. 

The research team, which also includes Emily Meineke of University of California, Davis and Ellen Currano of the University of Wyoming, used radiocarbon dates to verify the ages of modern leaves along with quantifying the frequency and diversity of insect damage in each sample.  

The causes of this increase in leaf damage due to insect herbivores and the specific consequences of it remain unknown. However, researchers believe widespread change influenced by human activity, such as the rate of global warming, urbanization and the introduction of invasive plants and insects, could be driving the uptick. Human activity may have drastically changed how insect herbivores are interacting with their food source, the researchers say. 

The research team published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 

“Humans understand that climate is always changing and that the Earth has previously been hotter, but we often can’t grasp the ‘oddity’ of modern climate change,” Azevedo-Schmidt says. “The geologic record reported here should have supported comparable levels of insect herbivory, but it didn’t because humans weren’t present in our post-industrial revolution capacity. This shows the heartbreaking reality that humans have a much higher impact on forest ecosystems than increased atmospheric CO2 alone. However, we can work to minimize our impacts on forest ecosystems by considering the intersection of these findings.” 

The researchers also found that the damage caused by insects in leaf samples from recent history is slightly more diverse than that in fossilized leaves. The increase in leaf damage diversity, however, is not as drastic as the spike in damage frequency. 

Researchers examined total damage frequency and diversity along with various types of damage including specialized, piercing and sucking, surface feeding, hole feeding, galling, mining, skeletonization, margin feeding and specialized damage. In addition to discovering an overall uptick in total damage frequency, the team also found an increase across all groupings of damage. 

“Increased insect feeding can’t be explained by one group of insects but rather, all groups of feeding damage analyzed here,” Azevedo-Schmidt says. “This suggests that all insect herbivores within these three modern forests are increasing their feeding damage; complicating the story as we can’t simply blame one species or group.” 

No correlation was identified between damage diversity and frequency, according to researchers. The drivers behind the uptick in damage diversity are also unknown. 

“This is interesting because it suggests that insect diversity isn’t influencing insect feeding frequency and that other drivers are responsible for the drastic increase we are seeing,” Azevedo-Schmidt says. 

According to researchers, insects and plants possess the most diverse lineages on the planet, and how they interact has evolved over millennia in response to natural and unnatural causes. 

How plant-insect relationships change over time, including the extent to which the latter feeds on the former, has implications for biodiversity, plant functionality and mortality, and carbon balance in forests — the loss of plant life can decrease the ability for a forest to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

“This study is the first to compare similar records of plant-insect interactions across modern and fossil datasets,” Azevedo-Schmidt says. “These findings highlight the importance of humans interacting with landscapes and although climate change influences ecosystem processes, it is not the only factor we need to consider. Humans are agents of disturbance and dispersal, greatly influencing the natural world around us.” 

Contact: Marcus Wolf, 207.581.3721; marcus.wolf@maine.edu

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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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Flavonoids from sorghum plants kill fall armyworm pest on corn, may protect crop

by Jeff Mulhollem, Pennsylvania State University

corn plant
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Flavonoids produced by sorghum leaves have shown promising results in combating fall armyworm larvae. When sprayed on the leaves of corn, sorghum flavonoids stunt the growth of fall armyworm and often kill the pest, Penn State researchers report in a new study.

The results of the research are important, according to Surinder Chopra, professor of maize genetics, because fall armyworm is an invasive insect pest that now damages corn crops around the world, significantly limiting yields. He suggests that flavonoids could be used as the basis for a nontoxic pest-management strategy to protect corn.

Plant flavonoids are natural compounds that often are seen as pigments in some flowers, vegetables and fruits. Flavonoids normally are considered nonessential byproducts of a plant’s primary metabolism, which produces sugars and other metabolites that work together to produce seed yield.

“When you survey the leaves and other parts of commercially grown corn, you do not see production of these flavonoids anymore,” he said. “These compounds were naturally present at one point until we started breeding against them. Actually, we did not breed against them so much as we just lost them trying to develop higher-yielding varieties.”

For two decades, Chopra’s research group in the College of Agricultural Sciences has studied mutant lines of corn that overproduce the flavonoids and has developed new lines that combine flavonoid overproduction with other desirable traits. And his lab has taken the gene that produces a precursor compound of flavonoids in sorghum and inserted this gene into corn to make more resilient plants that can discourage feeding by fall armyworms and possibly other pests.

Fall armyworm caterpillars are so destructive because they often feed on the younger corn leaves inside the whorl where they grow, Chopra explained. They stay inside the whorl gorging, and when the whorl opens, the young leaves already are destroyed.

In the study, the researchers demonstrated in a three-part experiment that sorghum and corn flavonoids affect survival of fall armyworm larvae. Their findings, recently published in the Journal of Pest Science, revealed that fall armyworm larvae reared in the lab on an artificial diet supplemented with sorghum flavonoids showed significant mortality and decreased larvae body weight.

To compare the levels of fall armyworm survival and feeding damage, the researchers developed breeding lines and grew four related lines of corn at Penn State’s Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center—two genetically modified lines to produce flavonoids, and two not producing flavonoids.

“The feeding assays showed significantly high mortality of larvae that were fed on flavonoid-producer lines compared to nonflavonoid lines or the wild types,” Chopra said. “And significantly less damage was done to corn plants producing flavonoids than to flavonoid-free corn.”

The researchers also extracted leaf flavonoids from certain sorghum lines and sprayed them on leaves of susceptible corn lines. The flavonoid extract effectively reduced the growth and increased the mortality of fall armyworm larvae, making the susceptible lines resistant to fall armyworm larval feeding.

Penn State entomologist Gary Felton, who has been collaborating on this research with Chopra, noted that when fall armyworms ingest flavonoids, their intestinal tract is degraded.

“The membrane that protects the caterpillar’s gut was severely damaged in larvae fed on leaves of flavonoid-producer corn lines, compared to wild types,” he said. “The effectiveness of the flavonoids as feeding deterrents demonstrates the eco-friendly potential for the management of fall armyworm larvae.”


Explore further

Insect-deterring sorghum compounds may be eco-friendly pesticide


More information: Debamalya Chatterjee et al, Sorghum and maize flavonoids are detrimental to growth and survival of fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda, Journal of Pest Science (2022). DOI: 10.1007/s10340-022-01535-y

Provided by Pennsylvania State University 

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