Microbiomes are communities of microorganisms that include bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and microalgae, their structural elements, metabolites, signal molecules, mobile genetic elements and surrounding environmental conditions. They are essential for maintaining ecosystems and the health of plants, animals and humans. The EU-funded MICROBE project will cooperate with research infrastructures to create and develop methodologies and technologies to enable access to microbiome samples and associated data. The project objectives include technical solutions for microbiome preservation, propagation and functionality assessment, as well as data infrastructures. MICROBE will also address issues associated with standardization, ethical and legal requirements, and business opportunities.
The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) is a pest that feeds on hundreds of fruit tree species, causing considerable damage. In the USA, costs to control the pest exceed $450 million per year. Global regions that climatically support the invasion of the Japanese beetle include central Europe where it is considered a high priority pest. This project is aiming to tackle the spread of the Japanese beetle by exploring the use of the parasitic fly, Istocheta aldrichi, as a classical biological control agent in Switzerland, where it arrived in 2017.
Swiss landscapes would usually be rich in biodiversity. But due to highly concentrated agricultural practices, the number of regional insects and plants found is declining. The Federal Swiss government is taking action and has introduced a scheme to promote ecological compensation areas that will encourage naturally occurring species. As part of this, CABI is working on restoring regional biodiversity in the Swiss Jura through seed transfer methods.
The yellow-legged Asian hornet, Vespa velutina nigrithorax, was first detected in central Europe in 2004 and has since established in many countries on the continent. This hornet is a predator of honey bees and other insects, threatening honey production, pollination services and biodiversity. With Switzerland facing the imminent invasion by the hornet, CABI was commissioned by the Swiss government to help with the preparation for the threat and the control of the first arrivals. This project aims to establish a monitoring system for the early detection of the Asian hornet, determine control strategies and use climate modelling to predict where in Switzerland the insect might settle.