Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plant-eating predator to fight superweed is not magic bullet

14.10.2008
Plans to introduce plant-eating predators to fight a superweed spreading throughout Britain should not be seen as a ‘magic bullet’, says a world expert on Japanese knotweed at the University of Leicester.

Dr John Bailey of the Department of Biology has been researching the invasive weed since the 1980s. The research continues with PhD students Michelle Hollingsworth and Catherine Pashley. Research in the Leicester department established that the weed in Britain was a single clone- making it one of the biggest female organism in the world.

Dr Bailey has commented on plans announced this week to introduce a biocontrol to eradicate the weed that is plaguing Britain. The natural predator, a sap-sucking psyllid insect, is proposed to combat the weed. Plans have been submitted to the Government for approval.

University of Leicester scientists have previously liaised with the team behind the latest proposal including Dick Shaw, the lead researcher on the project, from Cabi, a not-for-profit agricultural research organisation.

Dr Bailey said: “Biological control is commonly used in the UK Glasshouse industry with a great deal of success. However, the use of predators invariably means that these die out when the prey levels get very low, and before the target is completely eliminated, so repeated applications are required.

“There is no doubt that in parts of the country Japanese Knotweed is still spreading along riversides and that in such areas it is extremely difficult to use herbicide – even supposing the will and the funding were available! Japanese Knotweed may be a big bully of a plant in Europe, but in Japan it is just one component of a giant herb community, and what we in the West think of as its almost profligate vigour is only enough to keep it in the game, struggling as it does to find somewhere to grow and to avoid the effects of the numerous predators that it attracts.

“A Biological control agent, as the developers themselves admit, is no ‘magic bullet’. Certainly such a release will weaken existing plants and slow down or hamper range extension, it may even have the effect of reducing the amount of hybrid seed produced. But it must be viewed as an invaluable aid to levelling the playfield in the fight against this alien plant, rather than as a ‘mission achieved’.

“If it is to be released it should be as part of a co-ordinated campaign which involves both public education of the dangers of inadvertently spreading the plant, and a redoubling of the use of more conventional control methods. To introduce a control agent and then sit back and let it do its work would lead to little reduction in the occurrence of the plant, and to a great increase in the unsightliness of its formerly pleasantly verdant appearance.”

• Dr Bailey travels widely on the subject of Japanese Knotweed; In September he addressed the Neobiota meeting in Prague with ‘Opening Pandora’s seed packet; unpredictable outcomes in indestructable plants?” Later this month he will be delivering ‘Japanese Knotweed here today – here tomorrow?’ at the BSBI Understanding our Alien Flora meeting in London.

Ather Mirza | alfa
Further information:
http://www.le.ac.uk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>