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Australia-Africa plant biosecurity partnership

Agricultural trade is a powerful engine for economic growth, poverty alleviation and food security but diseases are impacting it. Countries are therefore looking for ways of making agricultural trade secure. This initiative aims to facilitate trade by addressing plant pest and disease problems that hinder agricultural exports and threaten food security. The programme focusses on strengthening plant biosecurity skills in in Africa based on the experiences of Australian experts.

Finding a biocontrol agent for Crassula

Crassula helmsii is an invasive water weed that dominates still or slow-flowing water bodies. It’s spreading throughout the UK and has the potential to out-compete native flora and reduce oxygen levels by forming dense mats. Management of this species can be very challenging, with chemical and mechanical options limited. CABI were commissioned by the UK government to investigate the possibility of controlling the weed using biological control. This includes testing by our scientists to ensure that any potential agent is safe for release.

Controlling wild ginger

Plants from the Hedychium genus are widely loved and cultivated as ornamentals but a few are threatening delicate ecosystems in Hawaii, New Zealand, the Macaronesian Archipelago (Azores, Madeira and the Canaries), Brazil, Australia and La Réunion. We are researching natural ways to manage the plants where they have become invasive, which involves returning to their original home range in the North eastern Himalayan foothills to try to find damaging and specific insects and/or pathogens which may prove suitable for release in the invaded range.

Locating a biological control for tutsan in New Zealand

Tutsan, native to Europe, was introduced to New Zealand but is now a major invasive species. In 2011, CABI’s Swiss centre was approached by Landcare Research to investigate prospects for the biological control of tutsan. Surveys in the native range revealed a suite of insects and pathogens. CABI’s laboratories in the UK are currently conducting research on strains of the rust fungus, Melampsora hypericorum, from Europe to assess their potential to control tutsan populations in New Zealand.