The Grapes of Change

By Glen L. Creasy, Sabrosia Winegrowing Services, France

Grapevines are an amazingly versatile plant. They survive in many and varied climates, they can be cut back and trained in many different ways (on a yearly basis if need be), and they produce a fruit that is made into a wide range of products that make up part of our daily diets.

You can find evidence of their adaptability by looking to the past: in their natural state, vines use sturdier plants like trees for support, growing rapidly up through the shady understory to the tops of the trees where there is plentiful light for making fruit. During the dormant season you can see how the canes of the wild grape (Vitis riparia in this case) over-run the tree it’s using for support.

CreasyCABIBlogPhoto1-18Aug05
Photo taken in the Finger Lakes region of New York

Continue reading

Invasive species: the threat to human health

The damage that invasive species can cause to the environment and the economy are well known, but impacts on human health have been much less analysed. However, invasive species can cause impacts ranging from psychological effects, phobias, discomfort and nuisance to allergies, poisoning, bites, disease and even death. Invasives experts Giuseppe Mazza and Elena Tricarico of the University of Florence, Italy say that in addition to these direct effects, some work in more indirect ways. Humans are menaced by alien invasive species affecting the services provided by ecosystems. “These services are vital to our well-being: changes may decrease the availability of drinking water and of products from fisheries, agriculture and forestry, alter pollination and impoverish culture and recreation,” say Mazza and Tricarico.

Miluz
The invasive red swamp crayfish, linked to disease in fishermen (photo by Miluz).

Continue reading

Back from the brink: how biocontrol saved St Helena’s national tree from extinction

Gumwoods of St Helena
The gumwoods of St Helena are flourishing again after facing extinction

By Wayne Coles

At first sight the humble scale insect, Orthezia insignis doesn’t seem like it could pack much of a punch in a ‘fight’ against a range of native flora – but to make such an assumption would be very dangerous indeed.

In fact Orthezia insignis is a genuine invasive menace which in Hawaii, East Africa and South and Central America has, at times, wreaked havoc on numerous ornamental plants including citrus, coffee, olive, Jacaranda and Lantana.

Continue reading

Navigating the Nagoya Protocol – CABI’s commitment to Access and Benefit Sharing of genetic resources

locust metarhizium2
Locust metarhizium

CABI scientists have penned an important paper published in the journal Biocontrol Science and Technology which pulls no punches when it boldly states ‘the future of humankind and the rest of Earth’s biodiversity depend upon our research efforts generating solutions to the global challenges.’

Now this stark realisation has grabbed your attention, what does the body of work entitled ‘Biological control and the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing – a case of effective due diligence’ actually mean for the future of CABI’s endeavours in agricultural science and its mission to help farmers lose less of their crops to a range of pests and diseases and develop solutions to increase yields and feed more?

Continue reading

The view from above

olive trees
Remote sensing means soon we may be able to detect plant diseases before visual symptoms occur. CC0: ulleo Via Pixabay

We might not all be comfortable with the idea of unmanned drones, or government satellites scanning all corners of the earth but the data produced from these constant eye-in-the-skys is proving ever more useful in today’s environmental struggles. Continue reading

The palm oil debate continues

Palm oil
Palm oil fruits. Image credit: tristantan via Pixabay (CC0)

 

Nowadays palm oil has become ubiquitous as an ingredient across our supermarket shelves, from peanut butter to crackers it is in almost everything. It is also found in nearly half of all household products in developed countries. However, this is a relatively recent trend and given that the demand has increased so quickly, you have to wonder how it is being supplied at such a rate. Continue reading

Climate change and its implication on Biological Control: Case studies from Latin America

Climate changeDr Yelitza Colmenarez, CABI Brazil Centre Director & Plantwise Regional Coordinator – Latin America and Caribbean, recently presented at the First International Congress of Biological Control in Beijing, China, on the fascinating issue of climate change and the impact on the Biological Control of agricultural pests and diseases in Latin America.

Here we present Dr Colmenarez’s expert insight (including link to her full PowerPoint presentation) into what pests and diseases need to prioritized and why Climate Smart Agriculture could be the key to fighting these risks to crops exacerbated by changing climatic conditions in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

Continue reading