Weed Biocontrol Issue 86
In this issue
Great results in the Cook Islands
The technical advisory group for the Cooks Islands Biocontrol Project met in Rarotonga in June, which gave Quentin Paynter an opportunity to visit and assess the performance of the agents recently released there to combat a variety of invasive weeds. He was excited by some of the results visible already. He returned in early November with colleagues to run a training workshop by which time even further progress towards the goal of controlling six serious weeds was evident.
International weed biocontrol symposium
In late August, 203 weed biocontrol experts, representing 100 organisations from 25 countries, attended the 15th International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds (ISBCW) at Engelberg in Switzerland. The first-ever ISBCW was held in Switzerland in 1969, and over the years this event has become the key forum for refining international best practice and developing new collaborations for weed biocontrol.
Could gene drives be used to control weeds?
Better methods are needed for managing increasing numbers of unwanted pests worldwide, and the use of genetic modifi cations involving gene drives is being seriously considered. The idea behind a gene drive is to preferentially increase the frequency of selected genes throughout a target population, in this case genes that would be deleterious to the unwanted pest. Most naturally occurring genetic alterations are only inherited conventionally, and spread is generally linked to fi tness advantages in nature, but the use of gene drives could change that.
How effective is the green thistle beetle?
Since its release in 2007, the green thistle beetle (Cassida rubiginosa) has been starting to make good progress towards reducing Californian thistle (Cirsium arvense) populations in many areas. It has also been making a good impression on the farmers who have been nurturing them. The beetle was first introduced by the lower South Island-based Californian Thistle Action Group, with the support of Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, with funding provided by the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF).
Summer is a busy time for many biocontrol agents, so you might need to schedule the following activities.