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

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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Research indicates new hosts for two major plant diseases

The Plant Management Network highlights two research projects this month that have uncovered new possible hosts for two deadly forest diseases: laurel wilt and Phytophthora ramorum.

Vectored by the redbay ambrosia beetle, laurel wilt attacks species in the Lauraceae family, causing death within a few years. Recently, scientists tested Persea indica, a tree species native to the Madeira and Canary Islands, for its attractiveness to the redbay ambrosia beetle. The beetle preferred P. indica over Persea borbonia (redbay), its primary host in the U.S.

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A New Invasive Insect and Disease Threatens the Avocado Industry

While on vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina in August 2004, Minnesota plant pathologist Kathy Kromroy hiked through the Newhall Audubon Nature Preserve. As she walked, she noticed several trees drooping with wilted leaves. A park display blamed the death of the trees on a long drought, but Kathy noticed that only one tree species was dying. All of the other trees were still green and thriving.

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