Posts Tagged ‘Australia’


Fresh Plaza



Banana growers have started to breathe a sigh of relief, but are continuing to spend money on quarantine measures as news broke that the plants infected with Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) disease have been killed, and no new infectious plants have been identified from samples taken. “We’ve spent $100,000 in the last three weeks putting in quarantine measures. We’re trying to quarantine our two properties we have,” said Tully banana grower Martin Buchanan, whose property is in the area around the infected farm. “Everybody should be made to do it. It should be mandatory.”

Biosecurity Queensland have had almost 70 people working on the response since the beginning of March with a further 20 people joining the effort on Monday. An Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) field officer and assistant on Saturday destroyed the 10 infected plants and 200 surrounding plants on behalf of the family that owns the infected farm. The plants are being injected and left onsite. “The plants are being injected with chemicals to reduce any risk of disease spread and they will be left onsite. “We will continue to monitor the farm and surrounding area for any further signs of the disease in the weeks and months ahead,” said Chief Biosecurity Officer Dr Jim Thompson.

A total of 16,000 plants on a 10-hectare section of the quarantined farm are expected to be destroyed to help prevent the spread of the Panama TR4 pathogen. The farm is 240 hectares with about 160 hectares planted with bananas. That will require sustained effort from banana growers on the Cassowary Coast and other North Queensland growing regions, many of whom have been attending meetings in the regions at Tully, Innisfail and Mareeba to receive updates on the situation, and find out what they should be doing to protect their farms.

Mr Buchanan said that the meetings have been ‘good at keeping people up to date’ however some growers were still unsure about correct procedures for some decontamination measures, for example the correct chemicals to use to wash down vehicles.

Both the ABGC and Biosecurity Queensland have made resources available to assist farmers to ensure they follow the ‘come clean, leave clean’ directive, and ABGC Chairman Doug Phillips offered his thanks to growers for their cooperation, and expressed cautious optimism at the news that there have been no other plants in the North Queensland growing regions that have tested positive for Panama TR4, from 150 samples sent for testing. The only ones to test positive were from the infected plants on the quarantined farm. “It’s very encouraging that there have been no detections of TR4 on other banana farms,” Mr Phillips said. “Surveillance and testing is continuing and we would ask growers to continue to report any plants that may appear to have TR4 symptoms.”

Publication date: 3/31/2015
Author: Kalianna Dean
Copyright: http://www.freshplaza.com


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Invasive Plant Science and Management—Attempts to achieve biological weed control with insects are met with stringent risk assessment in the United States. Before insects are released, their potential to attack economically important or threatened plants is closely evaluated. This assessment focuses on risk and does not adequately address host-range data, especially results from multiple-choice and open-field tests; therefore, it may result in missed opportunities for safe, effective, and natural weed control.

An article in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management examines five successful cases of insects released in the United States for weed control. Prerelease and postrelease data collected for these insects (known as agents) are compared to evaluate the safety of biological weed control. In general, experimental host range data accurately predicted or overestimated the risks to nontarget plants.

Before releasing an insect to control weeds, the benefits and risks are weighed. An herbivore is tested, one plant species at a time, under confined conditions to determine its fundamental host range. But to establish its realized host range, under natural field conditions, an insect is allowed to choose from among the target weed and other potential host plants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service is the agency responsible for biological control introductions. Recent decisions by the agency favor a conservative approach that focuses solely on the fundamental host range. While this is a safe methodology, the authors of this analysis argue that this criterion significantly overestimates the risks posed by an agent, thus limiting biological weed control options.

The authors contend that five agents, historically proven as successful, would not have been released under today’s assessment standards. These include a leaf beetle, mite, and weevil that reduced populations of

A reassessment of current policy is proposed to enable the consideration of both benefits and risks of all management options, such as biological control, but also herbicides or non-action. Focus should be at the habitat level, rather than for individual species of concern. In the long term, the authors believe that biocontrol legislation should be amended to include this risk–benefit analysis, ideally, early on in the control program, noting that this has proven effective in New Zealand and Australia.


About Invasive Plant Science and Management
Invasive Plant Science and Management is a broad-based journal that focuses on invasive plant species. It is published by the Weed Science Society of America, a non-profit professional society that promotes research, education, and extension outreach activities related to weeds; provides science-based information to the public and policy makers; and fosters awareness of weeds and their impacts on managed and natural ecosystems. For more information, visit http://www.wssa.net/.

Media Contact:
Jason Snell
Allen Press, Inc.
800/627-0326 ext. 410

Read the article: Invasive Plant Science and Management, 2014: Volume 7(4): 565-579

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Dr. Bhagirath Singh Chauhan has been selected as an Editor in Chief of the Crop Protection journal. Crop Protection is the Official Journal of the International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS) under a contract with the publisher Elsevier Science B.V. Dr. Chauhan is currently a Principal Research Fellow in The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), University of Queensland, Dr. Chauhan is a weed scientist and conducts research in the fields of weed ecology, herbicide resistance, and integrated weed management for the grain and cotton farming systems of the subtropical cropping region of Australia. Prior to his current role Dr. Chauhan led weed science research at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines. He holds a BS (Hons.) in agriculture, MS in agronomy (CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, India), and PhD in weed science (University of Adelaide, Australia).
Dr Chauhan has more than 10 years of research experience in conducting trials on integrated weed management options and improved agronomy of new production systems in several countries, including Australia, India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. He has published >100 articles in refereed journals (Crop Protection, Advances in Agronomy, PLoS ONE, Field Crops Research, Weed Science, Weed Technology, Weed Research, Annals of Applied Biology, etc.) and >50 articles in national journals, conference proceedings, and magazines. The publications in the diverse set of journals reflect a focused approach on making an impact in the weed science area. He is the Editor-in-Chief of a recently published book [Recent Advances in Weed Management. New York: Springer Science+Business Media. 411 p].

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Zygogramma bicolorata, a Parthenium biocontrol agent in Ethiopia

See video, Taking aim at a bitter weed:    http://youtu.be/Ty4r4HPM08s

Addis Ababa – first 2 days
July 13 – July 15, 8:30 am to 12:00 pm
Nexus Hotel

Adama – second 2 days
July 15 – July 17, 8:30 am to 12:00 pm
Kereyu Hill Resort Hotel

The purpose of this four-day workshop is to review the current status of parthenium in the world and discuss management practices that can be used to abate its adverse impacts. The workshop will bring together scientists working on parthenium from Africa and other parts of the world to share information on the biology and management of this weed. The workshop is designed to facilitate collaboration among researchers both within Ethiopia and internationally.

The devastating invasive weed parthenium (Parthenium hysterophorus) is making an unwelcome advance in countries around the world from its birthplace in Central America. The scourge, known in Oromiffa, one of Ethiopia’s languages, as “faramsissa,” or “sign your land away,” has now spread to Africa, Asia, and Australia. In Africa, its reach extends from Ethiopia in the north to South Africa in the south. Wherever it goes, it reduces crop yield, adversely affects livestock production by taking over pastures and affecting the taste of cow’s milk, damages human health, and impinges on biodiversity. The Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab—a program funded by USAID and managed by Virginia Tech—has a project in Ethiopia led by Virginia State University that has been developing control practices to abate these adverse impacts. This project has evaluated the host range of two bioagents that control the weed, conducted a detailed survey of parthenium in eastern and southern Africa, and trained several individuals on biological control. Workshop participants will visit a bioagent rearing site, witness the release of bioagents that control parthenium, Zygogramma and Listronotus, and visit farms affected by this weed.

Workshop sponsors: USAID, IPM Innovation Lab at Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, IAPPS, EIAR, ARC-LNR, Alemaya University.


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The Japan Times News


The Chinese giant salamander has established itself in Kamogawa and part of the Katsuragawa river network in Kyoto. | WIKICOMMONS




MAY 17, 2014

An invasion has been going on under our noses. It is multipronged, ruthless and very difficult to repel. It has been called an “ecological apocalypse.”

If you look out your window you may be able to see evidence of it. That pigeon flying past? An invader. Likewise, the cat by the garbage. Most are so familiar we don’t even think of them as invaders, but they are not native to Japan. There are many more, and most are far less obvious.

“Non-native invasive species have been popularly described as one of the four horsemen of the ecological apocalypse,” says Nisha Owen, a conservation biologist at the Zoological Society of London. “They are a real and pressing danger to biodiversity and ecosystems.”

Outside of my window in London I can see two ring-necked parakeets in a tree in my garden. Their bright-green plumage and raucous squawking call are not typical of the English garden — these birds are native to Africa and South Asia — but they live now in large numbers in southeastern England, and in the rest of Europe.

The parakeets of London nest early in the year and occupy holes in trees that native species such as woodpeckers would use. Pretty though they are, there are thousands in London alone and they are now classified as a pest.

In Japan, alien species are widespread and well-established. Some of the native species threatened by invaders are well-known. There is the Amami rabbit, an extremely unusual species of rabbit sometimes called a living fossil as it is so different from other species of rabbit and hare.

Carnivores that have been introduced by humans — sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally — now threaten the very existence of the Amami rabbit.

“The Amami rabbit is one of the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered mammals in the world,” says Owen, who works on the EDGE of Existence Program (www.edgeofexistence.org), which highlights and conserves evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered animals in the world.

“Although declared a Japanese national monument, this species is under threat from the introduced small Asian mongoose — one of the world’s most invasive species — which has killed large numbers of rabbits since their introduction in 1979 to control snakes,” she says.

OK, you might be thinking, but the establishment of parakeets in England and Asian mongooses in Japan is hardly enough to qualify as an “apocalyptic” invasion. Even if you add pigeons and cats, it’s not the end of the world.

However, there are many thousands more invasive species and, added together, you start to see the scale of the problem. For example, in Europe there are more than 13,000 non-European species that live in the wild.

There are hundreds of non-native insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals breeding regularly in Japan — so many that I couldn’t count them all in the database. For anyone interested, Dr. Koichi Goka of the Invasive Species Research Team at the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba (my old research institute) has put together a great online resource in English: www.nies.go.jp/biodiversity/invasive/index_en.html.

Here are a few of the invaders Japanese biologists are most concerned about. They are classed as “100J” species, the list of Japan’s top 100 worst invasive pests.

In Wakayama and Aomori prefectures, Taiwanese macaques have established themselves. They hybridize with native Japanese macaques, so “contaminating” the gene pool of the native species. In Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture, there are populations of snapping turtles, released by people who purchased them as pets. These turtles attack and eat native freshwater animals.

There is a moth — the fall webworm — the caterpillars of which devastate native trees. There is even a cane toad. Notorious as one of the worst invasive species in Australia, there are cane toad populations on some Okinawa and Ogasawara islands.

The invasion situation is so bad that biologists are proposing a new way of tackling the problem: create a “Black List” of invasive species — the opposite of the Red List of endangered species that is collated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

It’s not a simple problem to solve. Even if it was easy to catch or kill all the individuals in the wild of the species you were interested in, sometimes a species that is an invader to Japan may be rare elsewhere. This is best illustrated by an exotic and dramatic-looking species that has established itself in Kamogawa and part of the Katsuragawa river network in Kyoto, the Chinese giant salamander. You’ll know it if you see it — they are monsters, growing up to 1.8 meters long.

“The Chinese giant salamander (is) another evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered species that is desperately in need of conservation attention in China,” Owen says. “Unfortunately, this species happens to be a major problem in Japan, threatening the native Japanese giant salamander through competition and hybridization.”

The biologists proposing the creation of a Black List of invasive species say it can be used to prioritize species for action, as required by international policies on biological invasions.

The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and requires that “By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.” The paper about the Black List is published in PLOS Biology.

Humans are, of course, the most dangerous of all species, and could easily be given the No. 1 spot on the Black List.

Many scientists are in agreement that the sheer impact of humans on the planet means we have initiated a new geological era: the Anthropocene — the age of human impact.

For more on this, I recommend “Adventures in the Anthropocene,” by Gaia Vince (published by Chatto and Windus), an epic, global account of our impact on the biosphere.

Rowan Hooper (@rowhoop on Twitter) is the news editor of New Scientist magazine. The second volume of Natural Selections columns translated into Japanese is published by Shinchosha at ¥1,500. The title is “Hito wa Ima mo Shinka Shiteru (The Evolving Human).”


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April 4, 2014

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is embarking on a new research program to help address one of the most significant biosecurity threats to Australian horticulture.

An innovative control initiative targeting Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) has been developed by Dr Olivia Reynolds and her team at the DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute.

“We have established an Area Wide-Integrated Pest Management (AW-IPM) program that incorporates the sterile insect technique (SIT), to specifically target the breeding cycle of this major pest,” Dr Reynolds said.

“SIT is a method of biological control, where we release large numbers of sterile insects that compete with fertile insects to mate, which effectively reduces the overall population. It is an environmentally benign and cost-effective control option.”

Dr Reynolds said Qfly feeds and breeds on a variety of fruit and vegetable crops and is recognised as one of the key biosecurity pests threatening horticulture in NSW and Australia.

“This new AW-IPM SIT program is not only a preventative control option but is intended to have a positive impact on society by improving the quality of horticultural products at a lower cost, while protecting the environment and human health,” Dr Reynolds said

“Chemical controls are increasingly coming under scrutiny due to environmental and health concerns and we have responded to the need to find alternate ‘softer’ in-field control options for Qfly by incorporating the SIT in an AW-IPM program.”

Dr Reynolds said similar programs world-wide have successfully incorporated the SIT to control fruit flies and include prevention, containment, eradication and suppression of the pests.

“This program will operate on several properties, growing mostly Summerfruit, in a uniquely geographically isolated area away from urban centres in south-eastern Queensland near the New South Wales border,” Dr Reynolds said.

“Such a program is directly relevant to many fruit growing regions, including those in NSW, such as parts of the Murray Valley who share a similar climate and have low Qfly pressure.

“In contrast, conventional control methods have a narrow focus protecting crops from direct attack by pests.”

Dr Reynolds said it’s hoped the program will deliver a reduction in the fruit fly population as well as a reduction in pesticide use.

“Other benefits of this project may include protection of the health of farm workers, reduced environmental costs through reduced insecticide residues in fruit, water reservoirs and soil and strengthening research and development support of the stone fruit industry,” Dr Reynolds said.

This project forms part of the SITPlus initiative led by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Horticulture Australia Limited, Plant and Food Research, DPI and Regions South Australia and NSW DPI. This project has been funded by Horticulture Australia Ltd using voluntary contributions from the ‘Trap Rock’ growers, and funds from the Australian Government.

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