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.
Floating pennywort is an invasive aquatic plant that can over-run water bodies in the UK, and is threatening habitats, native plants, fish and insects. Also a problem across much of Europe, this plant has rapid growth and can regenerate from small fragments. Management is mainly limited to mechanical clearance which is expensive and often ineffective. Through comprehensive host range testing, this project aims to identify the safest and most effective biocontrol agent to keep the plant in check.
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.
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.
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.
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.