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 Mass spectrometry sheds new light on thallium poisoning cold case
14.12.2018 | University of Maryland

nachricht Protein involved in nematode stress response identified
14.12.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>