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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

International meeting updates on biological control of invasive pests and weeds

International meeting updates on biological control of invasive pests and weeds

An annual quadripartite meeting of international scientists presented the opportunity for leading experts to update on the classical biological control of invasive pests and weeds including a workshop on eriphyid mites.

The meeting, held at the Edmund Mach Foundation in San Michele all’Adige, Italy, brought together scientists from CABI UK and Switzerland, the Biotechnology and Biological Control Agency (BBCA), Rome, Italy, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  Agricultural Research Service (ARS), European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL), Montpellier, France and CSIRO, also in Montpellier, who are all involved in the research and development of classical biological control of invasive pests and weeds.

The scientists updated on current and ongoing projects and ran workshops with inputs from the wider European biological control community. There were also invited special guests from the Edmund Mach Foundation, University of Belgrade, Serbia and the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy.

The workshops and discussions included:

Eriophyid mites

Eriophyid mites are gaining popularity in weed biological control in recent years. However, several challenges still exist in understanding their basic biology, dispersal and host-finding behaviour to name a few. Professor Radmila Petanović and Dr Biljana Vidović (University of Belgrade) and Prof Enrico de Lillo (University of Bari Aldo Moro) ran a workshop offering solutions to overcome these challenges.

Chemical ecology

Chemical ecology is becoming increasingly important in biological control to elucidate the host-finding and host-choice behaviour of potential agents and to explain ambiguous host specificity testing results. The workshop was run by Dr Gaylord Desurmont (EBCL) who described ongoing work with biocontrol agents for both pests and weeds.

Access and Benefit Sharing (Nagoya Protocol)

The Nagoya Protocol aims to provide a legal framework for the Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS). This workshop, run by Dr Philip Weyl (CABI), gave an overview of the issues arising for classical biological control through the Nagoya Protocol and the steps CABI has taken to find pragmatic solutions. We emphasized the growing importance to exercise due diligence when it comes to ABS to guarantee that classical biological control remains a viable tool for invasive species management.

New joint projects (BBCA)

Finally, Dr Massimo Cristofaro proposed to the group to collaborate on a common project in order to secure larger grants and suggested the biological control of tree of heaven (Ailanthus integrifolia), which is a target for biological control in the US, but is also becoming increasingly invasive in Europe.  

Dr Hariet Hinz, CABI’s Switzerland Country Director, said, “All in all this was a very informative and useful meeting, including the opportunity to intensify our personal links. We discussed common challenges and explored opportunities for collaborative projects.”

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