After my formal training as Environmental Engineer and achieving an MSc in Environmental Management, I started working for CABI in 2008. I am now employed as a permanent Technical Research Assistant in weed biological control. Here I conduct experiments in plant-insect interactions. I establish and analyze host-specificity bioassays to evaluate the environmental safety of weed biological control candidates and experiments to quantify their impact on the target weed.
CABI’s Swiss centre carries out applied scientific research and undertakes consultancy projects. Located in Delémont in the Canton of Jura, it is the home base for experts and students from several different countries where they research and apply their knowledge.
An invasive weed with close relatives among native species is a challenge for biological control. Houndstongue was introduced accidentally to North America from Eurasia in the mid-19th century. It has since invaded most Canadian provinces and adjacent US states. There are many native plants in the USA in the same family as houndstongue. CABI staff in Switzerland are investigating specialized natural enemies in the area of origin of the weed that could be introduced as biological control agents.
Trade in seed brought crops to new regions, but many weeds were spread by this route too. Whitetops, also known as hoary cresses, arrived in the USA as contaminants of seed from Eurasia. They are now aggressive invaders of crops, rangeland and riverbanks. One reason for this is the absence of the natural enemies that keep them in check in their area of origin. CABI staff in Switzerland are looking into the prospects for biological control of these invasive plants.
Dyer’s woad is an ancient source of blue dye and was grown as a textile dye crop in Europe and Asia for centuries. It was introduced to North America by early colonists, but escaped cultivation. Today, it is recognized as a serious weed in the western USA. One reason for its impact is the absence of the natural enemies that keep it in check in its area of origin. CABI is searching for specialist natural enemies in Europe that could potentially be introduced for its biological control.