California's avocado industry is worth more than $320 million annually, and has about 6,000 growers farming more than 6,000 acres of land. Indeed, California grows nearly 95 percent of the country's avocados.
University of California, Riverside entomologist Mark Hoddle is in Peru until the end of July 2010 to look for known avocado pests, in particular, the avocado seed moth, Stenoma catenifer, that could wreak havoc on California's avocados should the pest make its way to the state."This pest is native to Peru, and is particularly destructive in avocado-growing areas in the Chanchamayo region of the Junin District – a somewhat warm and humid jungle zone," said Hoddle, the director of the Center for Invasive Species Research, who, like an Indiana Jones of invasive species, travels several times a year to locations around the world in search of invasive pests that could threaten California's agriculture, urban, and wilderness areas.
"As part of the Stenoma survey, we are prospecting also for unknown species of avocado fruit pests – those that have not been recorded attacking avocados before," Hoddle said. "These would be the wild cards in invasion biology because we don't know what they are and we don't know how to look for them, or what their tell-tale damage signatures are. This type of information collected in collaboration with overseas trade partners will help us to more confidently identify risky invasive pests."
When an unknown pest shows up, establishes and causes havoc, oftentimes researchers can be left scrambling for information on how best to develop eradication or management plans.
"We have seen this twice before in California with avocado pests, the persea mite, and the avocado thrips," Hoddle said. "Both were species new to science when they first showed up in the United States, and they are the worst two invasive pests California avocado growers need to manage. The persea mite, which is native to Mexico, has also spread to Costa Rica, Israel, and Spain where it attacks avocados."
The avocado seed moth can attack close relatives of the avocado, such as greenheart, an important timber tree in South America. The pest could possibly attack and survive on California bay laurel, a plant native to California that is closely related to the avocado.
"We have also found some generalist avocado pests in Peru that eat a variety of plants," Hoddle said. "One of these is the well known native bag worm, Oiketicus kirbyi, which can feed on more than a hundred different plants, including eucalyptus!"
Hoddle noted that Peruvian avocados exported to California arrive from export orchards certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"We have visited some of these orchards during this trip," Hoddle said. "They are impressive in terms of their vast size, the professionalism with which they are managed and the extraordinarily strict entrance procedures which are designed and rigorously enforced to keep pests out."
To monitor Stenoma that could be infecting Peruvian avocados, the Hoddle team deployed pheromone traps in certified avocado export orchards and avocado growing areas not certified for export.
"The sex pheromone is very attractive to adult male Stenoma," Hoddle said. "As expected, Stenoma has not been trapped in export orchards located in the coastal desert production regions of Peru. In non-certified export areas in the Junin District, where Stenoma is known to occur, males have been trapped.
"It is abundantly clear that the sex pheromone we developed for Stenoma cantenifer from our recent research in Guatemala works in Peru," Hoddle said. "We have shown that it also works in Mexico, Guatemala and Brazil. It is likely to work in any country with a native Stenoma population – Mexico, all of Central America and parts of South America. Countries exporting or wanting to export avocados to the United States should use the Stenoma pheromone to monitor their export orchards for this pest to demonstrate that they are pest-free year round."
In California (San Diego, Riverside, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Counties), Hoddle's team already has set up a proactive monitoring network with the Stenoma pheromone to detect the moth early should it ever arrive in the state and, if need be, eradicate it when populations are still small and highly localized.
For the research project in Peru, Hoddle is partnering with SENASA (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agraria), Peru's equivalent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). SENASA invited Hoddle to Peru to place Stenoma pheromone traps in their export orchards, and provided him with staff and laboratory space to rear out the bugs inside avocados collected from non-certified export areas.
"Without SENASA's assistance, we would never have been able to access the orchards or our study sites," Hoddle said. "SENASA has been a first class and extremely cooperative partner in this avocado pest survey project."
The California Avocado Commission provided financial support for Hoddle's research trip to Peru. Hoddle is accompanied in this research project by Christina Hoddle, his field assistant.
In mid-August, he will travel to India and Pakistan to study the Asian citrus psyllid and its natural enemies, and to potentially develop a biocontrol project for this pest, which poses a serious threat to California's citrus after its successful establishment in San Diego County in August 2008.
The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment of about 18,000 is expected to grow to 21,000 students by 2020. The campus is planning a medical school and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Graduate Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.
A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.
Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!
Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State
How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy