Finding a biocontrol for Himalayan raspberry
Yellow Himalayan raspberry is a major threat to native Hawaiian forests. A single plant can grow into a 4m tall impenetrable thicket, and its aggressive growth and rapid colonization enables it to outcompete native species. Current control methods are both labour intensive and costly. The aim of this project is to find biological control agents (both arthropod and fungal) from the plants native Indian and/or Chinese region of the Himalayas to control its spread in the Hawaiian introduced range.
MIRRI: improving access to microbial resources, services and data
Microorganisms are vital natural resources for biotechnology; they help advance human health, improve food security and provide innovative solutions to research and development. The European microbial landscape is fragmented and resources or data are hard to find. The Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure (MIRRI) is resolving this; integrating the main microbial domain Biological Resource Centres and their supporting services and data into a novel pan-European research infrastructure.
Establishing the psyllid: field studies for the biological control of Japanese knotweed
Japanese knotweed is highly damaging. It spreads extremely quickly, preventing native vegetation from growing and has significant impacts on infrastructure. Current control methods rely mainly on chemicals. Research however has identified a tiny psyllid from Japan as a suitable and safe agent to control Japanese knotweed in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and USA. The current aim of this project is to achieve establishment and impact of the psyllid on Japanese knotweed in these countries.
Biological control of Himalayan balsam
Himalayan balsam has rapidly become one of the UK’s most invasive weed species. A lack of natural enemies allows it to successfully compete with native plants for space, light, nutrients and pollinators, reducing biodiversity and contributing to erosion. Traditional control methods are inadequate. This project involves identifying an insect or plant pathogen that exclusively attacks Himalayan balsam, which can be released into the UK to control the plant while leaving indigenous species intact.
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.
One of the UK’s most invasive plants, the fairy fern or floating water fern causes problems for anglers and water managers. It forms thick mats on the water’s surface which can double in size in a few days, blocking out light and killing aquatic flora and fish. Fragmentation of the fronds makes control by mechanical means virtually impossible. This project involves researching and testing the use of a 2mm-long North American weevil (Stenopelmus rufinasus) as an agent to control the weed naturally.
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