UK: First report of eggplant mottled dwarf virus


UK: First report of eggplant mottled dwarf virus

Grahame Jackson/ PestNet

 Sydney NSW, Australia

 For your information

 10 days ago



A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Mon 21 Aug 2023
Source: Springer via Journal of Plant Pathology [edited]

Citation: Frew L, Hogan C, Andrews K, et al. First report of eggplant mottled dwarf virus in _Pittosporum tobria_ in the United Kingdom. J Plant Pathol. 2023;
In August 2020, a sample of _Pittosporum tobria_ was submitted to Fera Science Ltd. from a nursery in West Sussex, United Kingdom (UK). The sample was sent in during a routine plant health inspection, where the presence of an unknown disease was discovered on 20 plants. Symptoms included chlorotic mottling of veins and adjacent tissues along with the distortion of leaves. The sample was tested by high throughput sequencing (HTS) on a MinION sequencer (Oxford Nanopore Technologies) and nucleotide sequence analyses (GenBank Accession No. OQ716556). A total number of 178 904 read pairs were obtained, and eggplant mottled dwarf virus (EMDV) and pittosporum cryptic virus 1 (GenBank Accession No. OQ716558) were identified. The presence of EMDV was confirmed by ELISA using a specific antiserum (Loewe, Germany).

In February 2022, 2 _Pittosporum tobria_ were submitted to Fera Science Ltd. from a nursery in Gloucestershire, UK. Plants exhibited similar symptoms to those previously seen, and tested positive for EMDV by ELISA (DSMZ, Germany). EMDV and pittosporum cryptic virus 1 were confirmed by HTS using a MiSeq sequencer (Illumina UK) (Fowkes et al. 2021) (GenBank Accession No. OQ716555, OQ716557, OQ716559). In both instances, plants were destroyed on advice from DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

EMDV has been assigned to the species _Alphanucleorhabdovirus melongenae_ in the genus _Alphanucleorhabdovirus_, family Rhabdoviridae. It can spread through infected propagation material (De Stradis et al. 2008). EMDV can be transmitted by the leafhopper _Anaceratogallia ribauti_ (Giustina et al. 2000), and as this leafhopper is present in the UK, there is a possibility that this vector could be a source of the spread of the virus. Although the virus is highly damaging in vegetable crops, its impact remains minor because incidence in the field is very low. This is the 1st record of EMDV in the UK.

Communicated by:

[A summary of EMDV is available at – Mod.JH

ProMED map of United Kingdom:,40]




Finland: Fungal-plant symbiosis to boost crop resilience


Finland: Fungal-plant symbiosis to boost crop resilience


Peer-Reviewed Publication



Researchers inoculated oilseed rape plants with a species of fungus that is known for its ability to combat pest insects. Utilising the relationship between beneficial fungi and crop plants may introduce a new era of agriculture where the plant resilience is improved and the ecological footprint of traditional/chemical pesticides is minimised.

A study led by researchers from the University of Turku in Finland has shown that a species of fungus that normally grows in the wild and kills insects can be successfully inoculated in oilseed rape plants where it fosters a unique symbiotic relationship. The discovery is a step towards a future of sustainable agriculture, for which harnessing the power of beneficial fungi to enhance crop protection and productivity holds great potential.

The researchers used Beauveria bassiana, a species of fungus known for its ability to combat pest insects. It is commonly used as a biopesticide that is sprayed on the leaves of crops. These biopesticides are used around the world, but their weakness has been their vulnerability to UV degradation. This led the researchers to explore an alternative approach where they inoculated oilseed rape plants with the fungus to foster a unique symbiotic relationship.

“We embarked on a journey to unlock the potential of Beauveria bassiana in crop protection, while it might live endophytically within the plant tissue. This way, we aimed to create a natural defence mechanism against pests,” explains the first author of the study, Docent Anne Muola from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku.

Successful symbiosis caused an increase in flavonoid biosynthesis

Researchers made a breakthrough by establishing an endophytic relationship between the fungus and oilseed plants. The growth of the fungus in the plant tissue triggered a remarkable increase in flavonoid biosynthesis and compounds known for multiple plant benefits including antioxidant properties.

“Our findings suggest that the interaction between the fungus and the plant spurred a positive response in the form of enhanced metabolite production, rather than a defence response against the fungal intruder,” states lead author of the study, Academy Research Fellow Benjamin Fuchs from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku.

Flavonoids produced by the oilseed rape plant and renowned for their antioxidant properties and their role in UV protection, flower pigmentation, and herbivore deterrence, took centre stage in the study’s results.  Next, the researchers aim to find out how great of an impact this particular fungus has on plant resilience against environmental stressors and how it impacts crop quality.

Using microbes in agriculture can reduce reliance on chemical pesticides

“Our study holds immense promise for sustainable agriculture. By embracing the symbiosis between beneficial microbes and crop plants, we’re ushering in a new era of agricultural practices that reduce reliance on chemical pesticides,” says Fuchs.

According to the researchers, partnerships between organisms like the one unveiled in this study offer a glimpse into the future of agriculture where society strives to secure its food supply while minimising the ecological footprint.

“With the increasing recognition of the role of microbes in plant health and advanced biotechnological tools at hand, the stage is set for innovative approaches to optimise crop resilience and quality on a smart and sustainable path,” notes Fuchs.

The study is part of the EcoStack project in the EU’s Horizon Europe programme. The research article was published in the esteemed Pest Management Science journal.


Pest Management Science




China: The search for space-bred seeds


Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-09-01 21:00:15


A researcher processes space scientific experimental samples at the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization under the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 5, 2022.(Xinhua)

BEIJING, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Upon a search for “space-bred seeds” on China’s e-commerce giant, a stunning array of vegetables and fruits appears, each with remarkably positive user reviews.

“My kid likes it a lot and finds it interesting to observe the growth of these special plants,” a customer review stated.

Over the decades, the plant seeds brought back from space have transcended their role in laboratory research. They have stepped into the daily lives of Chinese people, being utilized as food and serving as educational materials for curious children interested in science.

It was in 1987 that China sent its first crop seeds including rice and pepper into space, marking the start of the country’s journey in space breeding. Over the past 30 years, it has conducted over 30 such space experiments involving plant seeds, seedlings and strains, resulting in the cultivation of almost 1,000 new varieties.

Space breeding refers to exposing seeds or strains to cosmic radiation and microgravity in space to mutate their genes, so as to create new species or varieties with greater performances like shorter growth periods, higher yield and better resistance to diseases.

At a space breeding base in Beijing’s Tongzhou District, multiple intelligent greenhouses are used for growing crops that have traveled to space, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce. The greenhouses are mainly used to evaluate and screen new varieties, a major step after mutant plants or seeds return to Earth.

“The screening and breeding process of different plants after returning to the ground varies in duration. For example, it takes more than 10 years to breed a new variety of alfalfa (a kind of perennial plant),” said Yang Hongshan, a senior breeding expert at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

So far, the main crops that were selected from space breeding and approved for large-scale cultivation have ranged from staple foods to vegetable crops such as rice, wheat, corn, pepper and tomato, according to Zhao Hui, general secretary of the Space Breeding Industry Innovation Alliance.

Zhao said that among the vegetable seeds carried by Shenzhou crewed spaceships, a total of more than 5,000 excellent mutant plants were produced and screened, with over 20 new varieties like pepper and tomato bred. The seeds of flowers and Chinese herbs surviving a space trip also saw an increase in their yields.

More than 125 new rice varieties have been developed in the span of nearly 30 spaceflights, the China Manned Space Agency quoted data as saying. Among them, nearly 10 varieties, which include Huahang-51 and Huahang-57, brought back by the Shenzhou-10 spaceship have been planted on a large scale in recent five years. The varieties that have traveled to space demonstrate their value through increased yields and enhanced resistance.

This combo photo shows representative images of rice samples at different stages in life ecology experiment cabinet of China’s Wentian lab module, with figures at the upper right corner of each image marking the number of days since the experiment started.(Xinhua)

In terms of scientific research, China’s space rice breeding experiments stand at the forefront globally. Last December, with the return of the Shenzhou-14 spaceship, it was announced that space rice seeds had been successfully obtained during a 120-day life cycle experiment of onboard rice seeds from Earth. This result is the first of its kind worldwide.

The successful seed breeding of plants and their generation alternation in space are essential to ensure that human beings have the ability to survive in extraterrestrial space for a long time, said Zheng Huiqiong, who leads the space rice seed experiment and is also a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

According to a report by the Science and Technology Daily, the cumulative planting area of new space breeding varieties like crops, vegetables, grasses and flowers has exceeded 2.4 million hectares, contributing an expected direct economic value of more than 200 billion yuan (about 27.86 billion U.S. dollars).

Morel mushroom, an edible fungus, had previously faced the problems of strain degeneration, unstable production and low yield. Researchers from the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences sent this rare mushroom species into space onboard the Shenzhou-12 and Shenzhou-14 spaceships for mutation, and eventually bred varieties that are resistant to high and low temperatures, drought and multiple diseases.

The space-bred variety “Nongtou-1” is larger in size and has a stronger fragrance than the ordinary morel mushrooms. Projections indicate that this year’s yield could reach 480 kg per mu (about 7,200 kg per hectare), a notable increase compared to the ordinary varieties, which usually yield around 150 to 200 kg per mu.

“The mushroom that survives a space trip smells even better,” a researcher from the KIB said.  ■


Stink Bug Saliva: A Potent Mix to Bypass Plant Defenses


Stink Bug Saliva: A Potent Mix to Bypass Plant Defenses


The biochemical conflict between plants and the insects that eat them is vastly complex, as illustrated by new research identifying nearly 700 proteins in the saliva of just five stink bug species, many of which play potential roles in suppressing or deactivating plants’ own chemical defenses. The southern green stink bug (Nezara viridula), shown here, was one of the species included in the study. (Photo by Johnny N. Dell,

By Ed Ricciuti

Ed Ricciuti

Not long after insects appeared about 400 million years ago, some of them began eating plants, which in turn developed defenses against becoming food, triggering an evolutionary arms race. It’s a course without a finish line as, over time, plants evolve measures to protect against predation and insects come up with countermeasures that enable them to maintain their food supply. And so the cycle goes.

Morphology, such as the shape of insect mouthparts and plant spines, plays a role, but the main weapons in the conflict between insect and plant are biochemical, complex, and far from understood by science. One step toward understanding the complexities of chemical warfare in the insect-plant world is described in a new report about research on voracious, plant-eating stink bugs (Pentatomidae), published in July in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

In the study, researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Washington State University (WSU) identified an astounding 677 proteins from the salivary glands of only five species of stink bugs that could be involved in suppression of plant defenses against predation. Past research on other insects suggests many of these proteins could suppress plant alarm systems that trigger defenses and could even deactivate the chemical molecules that make those defenses work. Plants defend themselves with weapons such as chemicals that kill or trap attackers, attract as allies natural enemies of herbivores, and changing insect behavior, and insects like stink bugs have intricate strategies in opposition.

The biochemical conflict between plants and the insects that eat them is vastly complex, as illustrated by new research identifying nearly 700 proteins in the saliva of just five stink bug species, many of which play potential roles in suppressing or deactivating plants' own chemical defenses. The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), adults shown here, was one of the species included in the study. (Photo by Adrian T. Marshall, Ph.D.)

It may sound esoteric but the effort to understand the chemistry involved in the give-and-take between insect and plant has exceedingly practical implications. Why focus on stink bugs, though?

“Stink bugs encompass many species which are major pests of agricultural commodities including soybean, cotton, wheat, and tree fruits,” says Adrian T. Marshall, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research associate at the USDA Agricultural Research Service and previously at WSU.

The research was conducted by analyzing ribonucleic acid (RNA) of stink bug salivary glands for the coded instructions necessary to manufacture various proteins. RNA not only carries the code for making proteins but also the amino acids that are the building blocks of these all-important, highly complex molecules.

Despite identifying several hundred proteins, untangling what they all do is tall task yet to be cleared. “We want to make clear that we can only guess their role based on previous literature,” Marshall says.

The study was sparked by the fact that stink bug damage is difficult to identify for growers and packing warehouses. “Data from the study can help future research start to piece out the individual functions of stink bug saliva in feeding,” Marshall says. “We hope this can be used to build tools for specifically identifying stink bug feeding damage through their excreted salivary enzymes.”

In a study of the proteins found in the saliva of stink bugs, Adrian T. Marshall Ph.D., and fellow researchers dissected specimens under microscopes to extract salivary glands for RNA sequencing and analysis. (Photo courtesy of Adrian T. Marshall, Ph.D.)
Microscope view of the head and antennae of a stink bug on a white background. At the base of the head is a tangle of whitish tissue.

Salivary proteins of many insects have various functions. The ability of some proteins to predigest plant food is well documented in several types of insect, including stink bugs. When feeding, they pierce a plant with tubular mouthparts, called a stylet, and through it inject saliva containing enzymes that liquefy and predigest tissue, which is then sucked in.

During feeding, these insects produce salivary secretions, some of which solidify around the stylet and are believed to aid feeding and suppress plant defenses. “Some interesting trends we saw is that [our analysis] included proteins for different types of stink bug feeding activities,” says Marshall.

Some of the proteins Marshall and colleagues describe seem to aid macerating and slurping in plant tissue. Others fight off microorganisms harmful to insects. Still others disrupt plant alarm systems that signal the presence of alien chemical molecules and activate defenses. Certain proteins, for example, deactivate the calcium ion Ca2+, which triggers the deposition of a compound called callose. It repairs wounds in the phloem when pierced by an herbivore’s stylus, curbing feeding.

The researchers say they hope this foundational work will spur future studies on stink bug biology and management.

“Beginning to examine and understand the ways they feed and interact with plant defenses can open new avenues for developing damage-identification tools and implementing control methods,” Marshall says. “The work can also begin laying the groundwork towards understanding other non-stink bug Hemipteran insect interactions with plants.”

Read More

Salivary protein expression profiles of five species of Pentatomidae (Hemiptera)

Annals of the Entomological Society of America

Ed Ricciuti is a journalist, author, and naturalist who has been writing for more than a half century. His latest book is called Bears in the Backyard: Big Animals, Sprawling Suburbs, and the New Urban Jungle (Countryman Press, June 2014). His assignments have taken him around the world. He specializes in nature, science, conservation issues, and law enforcement. A former curator at the New York Zoological Society, and now at the Wildlife Conservation Society, he may be the only man ever bitten by a coatimundi on Manhattan’s 57th Street.



Texas Entomologists Find Redbanded Stink Bug to Be Dominant Species on Soybean

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February 2, 2018

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May 4, 2017

 Research News

 Annals of the Entomological Society of Americabrown marmorated stink bugEd RicciutiHalyomorpha halysNezara viridulaPentatomidaeplant defensessalivasouthern green stink bugstink bugsUSDA-ARS


Rise of the Spray Drone


Sizes vary, but a sprayer drone can typically apply a 10′ to 40′ swath, depending on the wingspan, with bigger drones covering up to 50 acres an hour.(Bryan Young)

Squinting through the morning sun, Jesse Patrick watches the top of his corn crop whip in the downdraft of a large spray drone pipping fungicides into the canopy.“The drone is only putting out 2 gal. an acre, but the thing that surprised me was the swath and amount of downdraft coming off of it even flying 15′ above the corn,” Patrick recalls.This seventh-generation farmer, who grows soybeans, corn, wheat, hay and sorghum, is used to battling weeds and disease in his heavy Georgia clay soils about an hour east of Atlanta. Treating those yield robbers with a drone, however, is new.

“When the drone lands, you pull the battery out, fill it up, put in a new battery and the whole thing takes about 15 seconds,” Patrick says. “It’s a pretty well-oiled machine.”Rise-of-the-Spray-Drone-3Drone-driven sprayers are popping up across the country as better batteries, longer flight times and bigger machines make it possible to spray sizable acreage in a timely manner.“There’s a 10-gal. tank so every 5 acres he has to come back to refill,” Patrick explains. “We knocked out 150 acres in about four to six hours.”

Does it Work?

While farmers such as Patrick find the technology useful, especially for spot spraying and targeting fields in less-than-ideal conditions, weed scientists are buzzing with more caution.“We [weed scientists] are very sensitive about the resistance issue we have in weeds to herbicides, and as I’ve heard about using drones for applications, I wonder who’s testing it,” says Bryan Young, a weed scientist at Purdue University. “I wondered if we are going to generate more resistance, if this is a sub-optimal application, and I wasn’t getting a lot of answers.”That kick-started a research project into drone sprayers and verifying the new application method is effective enough to do the job. Young has witnessed the potential benefits of sprayer drones; however, as with all new technology, he’s still quantifying and investigating the results.Rise-of-the-Spray-Drone-5

“I was looking around for any guidelines on the best spray drone design in terms of nozzles and boom configuration,” Young says. “Frankly, to date, I can’t tell you where the industry is headed for sure or what is the best setup for herbicide application. This is an emerging technology for commercial applications in the U.S.”Drone operators often tout the strong down draft helping push product into the canopy, but then fly at higher elevations to maximize field coverage or spray swath. Young says these application methods are significantly different than traditional aerial applications, and it’s why he’s part of a working group looking into whether product labels should include separate drone application guidelines.“Right now, the U.S. EPA has left it up to each state to determine whether drones can be used for herbicide applications following the aerial component of the herbicide labels,” Young explains. “Not all states agree on that and not all countries agree.”Then there’s the question of drift. It’s still being investigated exactly how much different spraying with a drone is versus a ground-based sprayer or even by airplane.

Wind Tunnel Testing

“Underneath the drone’s propellers what would normally be a flat fan spraying from the nozzle, all of a sudden, [the pattern] starts to bend and oscillate,” explains Kyle Butz, a technical adviser with Spray Analytics.He’s been working with Sidaard Gunasekaran, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Dayton, to test the effects of drone propellers on pesticide and herbicide application during flight. The two recently released their findings on droplet drift using the university’s low-speed wind tunnel.Rise-of-the-Spray-Drone-4“I think Kyle and I both asked the same question: On what basis are they deciding where to put the nozzles?” Gunasekaran recounts. “It turns out, they just take an agriculture nozzle, stick it underneath the propeller and then go fly without understanding the aerodynamics or the right location for that nozzle.”In search of answers, Gunasekaran and Butz developed a test rig with two propellers, a spray nozzle and a measurement system. They confirmed the propellers do in fact pull droplets back into the down draft while blowing smaller droplets out away from the target zone.“If you have smaller droplets, called fines, which are anything under 140 microns, they are prone to drift,” Gunasekaran says.From a sprayer’s perspective, however, there’s always been a balancing act between droplet sizes and efficacy.“Ultimately, spray applications come down to, one, droplets have to be large enough to safely reach the target, and two, they have to be small enough to work the way they’re supposed to be working,” Butz explains.Their recommendation is to start with products less likely to drift and use a drone in scenarios or situations that are less sensitive.Rise-of-the-Spray-Drone-2

A Tool Worth Trying

Like with all new technology, drone sprayers will no doubt have to earn their stripes. For farmers such as Patrick, it’s just another tool to deploy when the situation is right, such as when the aphids are going crazy on his sorghum but it just rained 2″ and he can’t run a sprayer.Today, he does not see this technology replacing the pre- or post-emerge passes on his operation.“However, at the end of the year, if you don’t want to run over a bunch of crops to spot spray, I think drone sprayers are definitely a tool we can use,” he says.“There’s a definite fit for these drones,” Young agrees. “It can allow us to be more timely with some of our pesticide applications and for us to be better stewards of pesticides.”


Yemen: FAO trains farmers on alternative pest control and other best agricultural practices for FAW management


Yemen: FAO trains farmers on alternative pest control and other best agricultural practices for FAW management

Format News and Press Release  Source

  Posted31 Aug 2023  Originally published31 Aug 2023  OriginView original

Farmers use a natural extract from local trees to manage the pest sustainably

It was a sad day when Ali Abdoul from Al-Buniyah, Yemen turned the leaf of his sorghum crop and saw a worm. This loathed pest is not just any worm, it is the so-called Fall armyworm that attacks many crops, with a clear preference for maize, and ruins livelihoods in a growing number of countries worldwide.

This pest made its way to the Taiz Governorate in July 2018, adding additional misery to Yemeni farmers, who were already grappling with a litany of challenges.

“For us farmers, pests are a menace as they devour crops…. In Yemen, pesticides are now very costly. We sometimes have to sell some crops from the previous harvest to get money to buy pesticides and save the current crop,” said Ali.

Many other farmers in Yemen share Ali’s sentiments. About 70 percent of Yemenis live in rural areas and depend heavily on agriculture as a critical source of food and income. The eight-year conflict in the country has worsened the situation and the prices of farming inputs have shot up.

In addition to rising input costs, farmers have faced a shortage of critical agricultural necessities such as seeds and fertilizer, a sharp increase in the price of fuel and unpredictable weather patterns.

And now they had Fall armyworm.

Ali describes how farmers were desperate to manage the new pest and tried different control methods without success. Home mixtures weren’t effective, and chemical pesticides caused harm to the environment and agricultural soils.

It was at this time when they were still struggling with the new pest that Ali, together with other farmers, started attending farmer field schools (FFS) organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“Two agricultural officers from FAO came and taught us to concoct natural insecticides using the mraemrah tree,garlic and hot pepper. The training we got through the farmer field school included how to crush, grind and filter the impurities and then spray the mixture on the crops,” said Ali.

The mraemrah tree, also known as Melia azedarach, chinaberry tree or bead tree, is commonly found in Yemen. It produces chemicals that can serve as a natural insecticide, hampering the growth and development of the Fall armyworm. Not only is the tree available locally, the biopesticide can be prepared directly in villages and in small quantities.

This pest control method was a traditional practice, but they had never tried it on the Fall armyworm. Ali and his fellow farmers were astounded by the results.

“Using biopesticides extracted from mraemrah was something new to us. After spraying, we found that the results were excellent. We were impressed, and we resolved that going forward, we will continue using the pesticide extracted from the mraemrah tree to manage Fall armyworm,” said Ali.

Ali added that the farmers realized that using the mixture was much cheaper than using chemicals and that it had no environmental impact.

“This biopesticide is helping us in a huge way. We were also taught that this type of pesticide is not harmful to human and animal health,” added Ali.

These biopesticides are not only safer for human health and the environment, they are also safer for beneficial insects like bees and other pollinators.

Through the FFS, FAO was able to train farmers on these methods of alternative pest control and other best agricultural practices. This learning environment allows farmers to practice, test and evaluate new sustainable methods and technologies by comparing the results of the demonstration plots with their conventional ones.

In addition, the FFS approach has significantly strengthened the social cohesion among Yemeni farmers, especially in the conflict areas, by helping them decide together as a group a plan of action for their fields instead of each deciding individually.

The FAO project has also provided monitoring equipment (including pheromone traps used to attract pests to a specific location) and smartphones offering the FAMEWS mobile application to collect, record and transmit data gathered from pheromone traps. FAO trained technical staff on the use of the mobile application to help in scouting for and monitoring the pest.

Worldwide, FAO promotes an integrated pest management approach that minimizes reliance on chemical pesticides and incorporates sustainable practices, such as regular monitoring for pests.

With support from FAO, the national authorities in Yemen have since built the capacity to identify, monitor and manage Fall armyworm. FAO is rolling out this training and encouraging the use of biopesticides in other countries struggling with this pest.