New tool predicts risk of plant disease

A newly developed technique can predict the risk of plant disease or infestation across the globe. Described in open-access journal Frontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, the technique considers pest-host interactions and the geographical distribution of vulnerable plants to provide maps of potential disease hotspots. This could help governments to understand the risk of outbreaks before they happen.

Diseases and pests can have a devastating impact on plants, the surrounding ecosystem, and food supplies. These effects can be particularly damaging when a pest or pathogen invades a new territory, in which native plants have little natural resistance and the destructive invader has few native predators or competitors. Continue reading

Repellent emitted by redbay may be key to fighting beetles

in Growing Produce

by Paul Rusnak, Growing Produce

UF/IFAS scientists might have just tracked down the right scents to help deter a beetle that’s been delivering disease and devastation to Florida avocado growers.

According to a recently published study, UF/IFAS researchers found when infected with the laurel wilt fungus, redbay trees (a close cousin to the avocado) emit methyl salicylate to repel redbay ambrosia beetles, the vector of the deadly pathogen. Continue reading

Interested in forest health? Here are some webinars on demand

The Southern Regional Extension Forestry Program sponsors and produces webinars on various aspects of forest health. On November 17 and 1 PM Eastern, the program will sponsor a webinar on Heterobasidion root disease. Other webinars that are available at their website include:

  • Chinese tallowtree
  • Laurel wilt
  • Gypsy moth
  • Emerald ash borer
  • Cogongrass
  • Oak wilt

You can find these webinars at http://southernforesthealth.net/webinars . Webinars are archived on this page about a week after they air.

Biology, Ecology, and Management of Laurel Wilt in the Southeastern U.S.

This webinar will discuss biology, ecology, and management of laurel wilt, a disease caused by the fungus Raffaelea lauricola) and disseminated by the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus). The webinar is being put on by the Southern Regional Extension Forestry.

This webinar is designed to help woodland owners, foresters, researchers, and concerned citizens to learn how to identify laurel wilt disease in the forest and residential landscape.  This disease impacts several woody plant species, mostly in the Family Lauraceae.  In addition, the webinar will describe the disease biology, susceptible hosts and current management options. Click for more information. Continue reading

Group Investigates and Promotes Awareness of Pest Threats to Forests

A team of interdisciplinary researchers has formed The Emerging Threats to Forest Research Team “to advance knowledge of the biology, impacts and management of emerging pests and diseases of forests. This knowledge will enable policymakers, land managers and agencies make proactive decisions and to reduce impacts of these threats.” The group grew out of collaborative research work between academics in different disciplines at the University of Florida, who decided to formalize their relationship last year by naming their group and creating a website to provide information about their mission and current work.

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Scientists find possible biological control for redbay ambrosia beetle

Scientists at the University of Florida have discovered a few fungal biological control options that show promise for fighting the redbay ambrosia beetle. They discuss the results of their experiments in a refereed article in Biological Control.

The redbay ambrosia beetle (RAB) was first discovered in southeast Georgia in 2002. A native of Asia, the beetle transmits a pathogen that causes laurel wilt, a disease that can kill an infected tree in just a couple of years. The beetle attacks trees in the family Lauracea, which includes redbay, swampbay, sassafras and avocado.

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Laurel wilt confirmed in Louisiana sassafras trees

Laurel wilt, a devastating disease of a number of Louisiana trees in the Lauraceae family, has recently been confirmed in sassafras trees in Union Parish.

The disease is caused by a fungus that clogs the water-conducting tissue of the tree. As a result, the affected tree wilts and eventually dies, according to LSU AgCenter “Plant Doctor” Raj Singh.

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