New ID Test for Invasive Mealybug Pest


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The hibiscus mealybug (Nipaecoccus viridis), also known as the lebbeck mealybug, infests a variety of different host plants in Florida. (Photos by Erin Powell, Ph.D., Lance Osborne, Ph.D., and Muhammad Z. Ahmed, Ph.D.)

By Muhammad Z. Ahmed, Ph.D.

Muhammad Z. Ahmed, Ph.D.

A variety of small, soft-bodied scale insects are called “mealybugs” due to the white, powdery, meal-like wax covering their bodies. They can be found on all plant parts, including roots, and they reproduce with and without mating, resulting in multiple overlapping generations in a single season. They cause damage directly by sucking sap from plant phloem, which reduces plant vigor and causes chlorosis and defoliation, and indirectly by excreting honeydew, which leads to the development of black sooty mold that reduces aesthetic value and blocks plant photosynthesis. Mealybugs can also transmit plant viruses and toxins.

Difficulties in mealybug identification remain an obstacle to their adequate management. Slide-mounting is mandatory for species-level identification. However, it can only be done in laboratory settings, requires several technical and tedious steps, can take up to two hours, and is mainly done with adult females, on which most of the taxonomic literature on mealybugs is based.

However, in the case of one important mealybug species, a new and improved alternative for identification is now available. The hibiscus mealybug (Nipaecoccus viridis), also known as the “lebbeck mealybug,” is a multi-crop pest that has emerged in recent years in Florida. In our recent study published in the Journal of Applied Entomology, fellow researchers and I describe an alternative to slide-mounting to identify N. viridis, using a safe chemical solution that causes hemolymph to turn green in N. viridis—and only N. viridis—providing species-specific field identification of all life stages of this pest.

Lineup of nine mealybugs, all oval in shape and covered in a white waxy, fuzzy substance. A scale bar at left shows 2 mm, with the mealybugs ranging in size from 3 to 4 mm. A red-dashed-line box outlines the far right two mealybugs, with a label below the box indicating both are Nipaecoccus viridis. Small text to the right of the right-most specimen, which is much whiter, says "With Wax."

A Mess of Mealybugs

Florida has nearly 400 scale insect species, making it the state with the second-highest diversity of scales in the country after California, with 540 species. Scale insects have three major groups: armored scales, mealybugs, and soft scales. About 2,000 mealybug species are known globally, with 320 species in the United States and 70 to 80 species known in Florida. Of those, 65 species (82 percent) are non-native to the state, about half originating from other states and half from abroad.

Mealybug Species Introduced in Florida
Since 1998
Species Year Discovered
Paracoccus marginatus 1998
Chaetococcus bambusae 1999
Palmicultor palmarum 2000
Palmicultor lumpurensis 2002
Maconellicoccus hirsutus 2002
Heterococcus raui 2010
Nipaecoccus viridis 2010
Planococcus minor 2010
Stemmatomerinx adenticulata 2010
Dysmicoccus mcdanieli 2010
Phenacoccus multicerarii 2011
Paracoccus gillianae 2012
Phenacoccus sisymbriifolium 2019

Nipaecoccus viridis is one of the 13 species of mealybugs that have invaded Florida in just the last 25 years (see table at right). The infestations of N. viridis were recorded in small pockets in south Florida after its first report until 2019, when a heavy infestation was found associated with commercial citrus for the first time. Afterward, it has been found to cause damage to various other commercial crops, including blueberries and hemp. Heavy infestations in ornamental plants, including oleander and jatropha, were also observed last year in south Florida.

Colleagues and I have since been looking for an alternative for slide-mounting to identify N. viridis in the field. We considered a field guide to show the morphological comparison of adult females, but this would still require technical training, a binocular microscope, and adult females without wax, and it would not work if the adult female was covered with wax or if there were mixed-species infestations. In addition, morphological identification may not be reliable if new mealybug species sharing similar habitats and host plants invade Florida in the future.

Another alternative of slide-mounting for field identification was a color test in 75 percent ethanol. We observed that all N. viridis samples stained 75 percent ethanol red; their body color turned black and released purplish hemolymph when crushed. This method was very user-friendly and effective in the field. However, while going through the liquid collection of the Florida State Collection of Arthropods, we found several other mealybug and similar-looking scale insects that can also stain ethanol red, turn their bodies black, and release purple hemolymph when crushed.

A color test of adult female Nipaecoccus viridis and its hemolymph in 75 percent ethanol (EtOH) results in red ethanol and dark purple hemolymph; however, several other mealybug species in Florida elicit the same result. (Image originally published in Ahmed and Deeter, 2022Journal of Applied Entomology)

A new possibility arose while digging into the complex taxonomic history of N. viridis. It was first described in India as Dactylopius viridis Newstead, then transferred to the genus Pseudococcus and then to Nipaecoccus, and it is now a senior synonym of seven different species. While looking at its original description, we noticed that the author mentioned that N. viridis, “when treated with potash … is of a beautiful emerald green.” Treating with potash (10 percent potassium hydroxide, or KOH) is one of the steps during the slide-mounting of mealybugs. We too had observed N. viridis turning green when we treated it with 10 percent KOH but had not thought of it as a species-level quality for N. viridis because it had not been compared with other mealybug species. So, we decided to start taking data on the color of all mealybugs while treating them with 10 percent KOH during slide-mounting.

A Dynamic Unique to Nipaecoccus viridis

I was working as a mealybug identifier with the Florida Division of Plant Industry and used to get mealybug samples from all over Florida for identifications. Over two consecutive years, we tested 2,635 specimens of 57 mealybug species from 26 genera collected from all over Florida, and we concluded that the green coloration of N. viridis in 10 percent KOH was unique among these species. Thus, it could be a reliable alternative to slide-mounting for N. viridis identification.

In a color test of adult female Nipaecoccus viridis in 10 percent potassium hydroxide (KOH), its hemolymph turns green. (Image originally published in Ahmed and Deeter, 2022Journal of Applied Entomology)

Afterward, the question was, can this alternative to slide-mounting be applied to eggs and immature life stages of N. viridis? Most of the time, eggs and immature stages show up early in infestations, especially in nurseries.

In addition, adult males can be trapped with yellow sticky cards and male pheromones and thus are often used to detect and monitor the populations of mealybugs. So, the second question was, can this alternative be applied to adult males of N. viridis in the field?

We investigated, and indeed all life stages of N. viridis—including eggs, first instars, and adult males—turned green in 10 percent KOH in our tests, but those of other mealybugs did not. This helped us confirm that this alternative is not only species-specific but can also be applied to all life stages of this species and could be used as an alternative to slide-mounting of N. viridis. My colleague Lily Deeter and I published these findings in 2022 .

In a color test of eggs, immatures, and adult males of Nipaecoccus viridis in 10 percent potassium hydroxide (KOH), their hemolymph also turns green. (Image originally published in Ahmed and Deeter, 2022Journal of Applied Entomology)

A Green Light for Growers

At that point, a third question was, is using KOH in the field safe? In the feedback from growers on the field diagnostic kit, we found potential safety hazards could be associated with KOH. Potassium can cause damage to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. This was one of the main limitations in developing a species-level field diagnostic kit. It is critical to ensure that any diagnostic tool developed in the field is safe for growers, scouts, and other individuals who may come into contact with it.

An unanswered question in the previous study was whether the potassium in the 10 percent KOH solution or its acidity (pH) turns the hemolymph of N. viridis green. If hemolymph turning green was not associated with potassium but rather with pH, then finding a safer alternative to KOH that can change the pH could resolve the situation. Therefore, we tested different solutions, along with KOH, covering the whole pH spectrum, to figure this out.

Our findings in this new study, published in August in the Journal of Applied Entomology, indicate that the alkaline pH between 11 and 14, not the potassium, turns N. viridis hemolymph green. A 5 percent sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution (pH 14) successfully turned N. viridis green, identical to specimens tested with 10 percent KOH.

Using NaOH over KOH offers several potential benefits. NaOH is less corrosive and more water soluble than KOH. In addition, NaOH is a less strong base and is typically less expensive compared to KOH. Our study suggests that 5 percent NaOH, half the concentration of 10 percent KOH used, is enough to turn N. viridis hemolymph green. In addition, NaOH products such as Pure Lye (used in our study) is commonly used in household cleaning and is publicly acceptable as safe to use with caution. We infer that 5 percent NaOH (pH 14) makes our field diagnostic kit more user-friendly and acceptable to growers.

A color test of Nipaecoccus viridis and Paracoccus marginatus in chemical solutions with different acid/base (pH) levels revealed that a high pH of 14, not potassium specifically, is the driver in turning N. viridis hemolymph green—enabling the development of a field diagnostic test using a safer chemical solution, sodium hydroxide (NaOH) with a similar pH. (Image originally published in Ahmed et al 2023Journal of Applied Entomology)

How Easier ID Can Slow This Mealybug

Nipaecoccus viridis is currently limited to Florida and may eventually spread to other states. It has recently been reported to be intercepted in two other states, Maryland and North Carolina, and was also reported in a residential area in Texas on citrus. Its spread to other states could have serious consequences for citrus and ornamental plant industries. The prevention of N. viridis‘ spread to more hosts and locations will depend on its early field detection, and t his field diagnostic kit will greatly aid such efforts.

Additionally, where N. viridis has become established, the kit will enable growers to identify N. viridis quickly and accurately and take appropriate measures to control its populations, reducing its impact on citrus and ornamental plants.

Nipaecoccus viridis has been intercepted several times in California, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently rated N. viridis a pest highly likely to establish a widespread distribution there. My co-author Natalia von Ellenrieder, Ph.D., a mealybug identifier at CDFA, says the field diagnostic kit will be essential in facilitating early detection and rapid response in California.

“This proactive approach can help minimize the impact of the pest on California’s agricultural industry and ecosystems,” she says.

Likewise in Georgia, a neighboring state to Florida, where N. viridis could arrive soon, says co-author Erich N. Schoeller, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Georgia.

Mealybugs tend to develop resistance to insecticides. Studies have shown that citrus mealybug (Planococcus citri), often found together with N. viridis in the field, has developed resistance due to overuse of insecticides. Mealybugs also show behavioral resistance to insecticides due to the waxy layers that cover the bodies of older life stages and prevent insecticides from contracting the cuticle.

“The crawler stage of mealybugs is the most susceptible to insecticidal management, because the crawlers do not have a waxy covering,” says co-author Lauren Diepenbrock, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Florida (UF). “Additionally, this is the most abundant life stage in an actively growing population.”

However, the crawler stage is only active for a few days. Identifying mealybug species at the crawler stage is critical to applying contact insecticides at the optimal time. But, when scientists find young mealybugs among crops, they are most often guessing its species, says co-author and UF professor Lance Osborne, Ph.D. “Identification at the early stage for N. viridis is critical to our growers,” he says.

In addition, most mealybug species, including N. viridis, have effective biological control agents. “Rapid identification of N. viridis in the field will aid the search for candidate classical biological control agents of N. viridis,” says co-author and UF assistant professor Nicole Quinn, Ph.D.

Read More

Development of a species-level field diagnostic kit for Nipaecoccus viridis (Newstead) (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), an invasive and regulatory pest in the United States

Journal of Applied Entomology

Muhammad Z. Ahmed, Ph.D., is a research entomologist in the Subtropical Insects and Horticulture Research Unit at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Fort Pierce, Florida. Email: muhammad.ahmed@usda.gov.

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New Language Options on the IAPPS Website


New Language Options on the IAPPS Website

Saturday, 30 September 2023 12:48:19

PestNet

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘News from IAPPS, The International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences’

Submission

News from IAPPS, The International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences

From Geoff Norton, President, IAPPS. (Also added as a PDF to preserve the photos)

New Language Options on the IAPPS Website

IAPPS members and other visitors to the IAPPS website will see that Google translate has recently been added, enabling non-English speaking visitors to read most of the material on the site in their local language. Whenever possible, our intention will be to post new material on the website as html, allowing for local language translation.  

To access this translation facility, click on the “Translate” button and choose the relevant flag symbol associated with your local language. Note: a list of languages at the bottom of the screen provides an alternative means of selecting a language.

While making most of the current information on the website available to visitors with limited English, this translation facility offers a broader service to plant protection worldwide. Three examples, that can be accessed via www.plantprotection.org – Resources – Education and Training, illustrate this point:

1.      “A Brief History of Plant Protection”, was initially posted on the “Education and Training/Plant Protection Stories” section of the IAPPS website, as two English language pdf documents.

Starting with the early beginnings in subsistence agriculture, we examine various case studies that illustrate the many economic, technical, social, and regulatory factors that have influenced the development, effectiveness and problems associated with modern plant protection strategies. 

This plant protection story is now available as a website document, that allows users to take advantage of Google translate to view the tutorial in their own language.

2.     “A Review of Digital Identification Tools for Plant Biosecurity”, a publication involving 11 experts from 6 countries, has recently been posted on the IAPPS site. It is freely available as an English pdf version as well as a website version, which can be translated into any of the Google languages and made available to a much wider audience. 3.     A series of digital pathway keys for identifying insects and spiders found in rice in West Africa (see IAPPS Newsletter  January 2023) has now been converted from English to French by Dr Souleymane Nacro (IAPPS West Africa Board member). Dr Nacro used Google translate to initially convert the keys to French, then checked and edited this initial translation, using appropriate French taxonomic terms. This French version of the digital keys will be made freely available on the same IAPPS site.

Jordan: Pesticides among main causes of death from self-poisoning


Dana Al-Zyadat, Jordan news

Pesticides among main causes of death from self-poisoning

Dana Al-Zyadat, Jordan news

last updated: Aug 21,2023

(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
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AMMAN — Communities across the Middle East and North Africa are facing alarming cancer rates, exacerbated by the troubling regulations of the EU which permit companies to export deadly chemicals banned within its borders. The most prevalent and relevant case of these chemicals to Jordan is pesticides, which enter our borders illegally either in their pure form or on produce coated with these chemicals.

A recent report has unveiled the shocking reality that lethal European exports to countries like Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia are causing harmful brain damage in children. Morocco stands out as a major recipient of toxic pesticides prohibited in Europe due to their cancer-causing effects on humans and catastrophic pollution of water sources, leading to the destruction of aquatic life and vital honeybee populations crucial for food production.

This issue goes beyond a few nations, Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Kuwait, Oman, Syria, and Iran have also received substantial quantities of these hazardous pesticides, blatantly disregarding international agreements and fundamental human rights principles, according to Ekō (formerly SumOfUs).

In light of these issues, and the clear detrimental impact of these substances, Jordan News has interviewed a series of local experts on the subject, all of whom urge for tighter regulations and screenings for produce and pesticides, to safeguard the health of Jordanian people as well as Jordanian agriculture, which can be equally harmed by negligent practices. These experts also spread awareness on the impact of these substances and what they are, and how we can battle their usage.

Deadly pesticides in Jordan
The chairman of the Jordan Environmental Union, Omar Shoshan, stated that farmers resort to using banned, inexpensive pesticides smuggled from neighboring countries, aiming to reduce costs and effectively combat agricultural pests.

“Persisting with the current approach of extensive pesticide use mostly harms the farmers themselves, potentially depriving them of export opportunities”

He emphasized that pesticides leave adverse effects on crucial systems, potentially transmitting damage to people’s health and the environment. Residues from pesticides hinder children’s developmental growth, in addition to causing various health issues, notably cancer. Consequently, it is imperative to tighten control over fields, central markets, and disseminate agricultural guidance. Each farmer or crop should possess a certificate proving the safety of their agricultural products, which elevates the product quality.

The reasons behind the use of unsafe pesticides include their efficiency and rapidity in eliminating agricultural pests, coupled with a lack of awareness about their harmful effects. Shosan highlighted that these pesticides disrupt the ecosystem by eradicating other insects with vital environmental roles, leading to an imbalance in the overall ecosystem. Some banned pesticides also affect soil composition.

Shoshan said that persisting with the current approach of extensive pesticide use mostly harms the farmers themselves, potentially depriving them of export opportunities. He emphasized the need to enhance agricultural extension efficiency and regularly monitor pests and issues within the agricultural sector.

Possible approaches
Agricultural expert, Ibrahim Al-Sharif informed Jordan News that while pesticides globally impact human health, their effects can be mitigated through optimizing usage. Jordan is among the countries that ensure proper pesticide use by imposing strict conditions on registration and importation. Although some specific instructions, such as adhering to safety intervals and obtaining global pesticide registration approved by the WHO, are enforced after importation.

Sharif clarified that these pesticides are indispensable to combat crop-devastating fungi and insects that can lead to food shortages and famines. Hence, he stressed the importance of imposing control measures and penalties in case of violations.

Director of the plant research and protection directorate at the National Agricultural Research Center, Ziad Al-Nasser, pointed out that the center aims to optimize pesticide usage, conduct scientific field experiments and research, and submit reports to the Ministry of Agriculture to take the necessary actions.

Abdullah Al-Zaben, head of the Jordan Exporters and Producers Association for Fruit and Vegetables, highlighted that Jordan has entered into international agreements concerning plant health, and any pesticide prohibited in Europe is also prohibited in Jordan. Furthermore, many farmers in Jordan are adopting the Best Control Management system, where pesticide efficacy lasts for one to two days, despite its increased costs. Nevertheless, Zaben stressed that stricter monitoring of fruit imports from neighboring countries is required.

Shada Al-Sharif, senior advisor on green economy, stressed the importance of raising awareness and advocating for nature-based solutions, including a return to the use of native plants. The increase in awareness in Jordan can lead to economic prosperity and improved individual health.

A scientific standpoint
Abdullah Al-Zaben also explained that pesticide effectiveness diminishes when applied to plants due to Jordan’s challenging climate characterized by drought, high temperatures, and inadequate humidity. Most pesticides used in Jordan are contact pesticides, which are entirely eliminated through simple washing. The water used for irrigation in Jordan contains high pH values, which reduces the effectiveness of pesticides, unlike the water in Europe, which has a low pH that enhances the efficacy and persistence of pesticides on plants for a longer period of time.

“Pesticides are indispensable to combat crop-devastating fungi and insects that can lead to food shortages and famines”

Oroba Al-Refai, head of Hands for Environment and Sustainable Development and PO in International Pollutants Elimination Network IPEN, told Jordan News exposure to pesticides is one of the main causes of death from self-poisoning, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, its danger primarily affects farmers, then residents of areas near pesticide usage sites, and consumers of crops excessively treated with hazardous pesticides.

She added that chronic health effects related to pesticides include cancers, tumors, nervous system disorders, reproductive issues, immune system impacts, and disruptions to the endocrine system. Regarding soil, insecticides have harmed microorganisms in the soil that play a crucial role in helping plants access soil nutrients, leading to damage to biodiversity.
Pesticides spread through air currents, contaminating surrounding areas and harming birds, mammals, fish, and other species. The flow of insecticides into surface and groundwater systems has begun to damage human drinking water supplies.

In recent years, the term “Highly Hazardous Pesticides” (HHP) has been expanded to include not only highly toxic pesticides but also those causing serious chronic health effects. Generally, proving chronic health effects is more difficult than proving acute toxic effects.

Currently, the pesticides included in the lists of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are:
•           Aldrin
•           Chlordane
•           DDT
•           Dieldrin
•           Endrin
•           Heptachlor
•           Hexachlorobenzene
•           Mirex
•           Toxaphene
•           Chlordimeform
•           Alpha-Hexachlorocyclohexane
•           Beta-Hexachlorocyclohexane
•           Lindane
•           Pentachlorobenzene
•           Pentachlorophenol, its salts, and esters
•           Technical Endosulfan and its related isomers

The WHO, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, is currently working to establish more effective mechanisms for pesticide use and the protection of human health.

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Jordan News



Hawaii: Detection of coconut rhinoceros beetle on Maui


Hawaii: Detection of coconut rhinoceros beetle on Maui

Maui News

September 22, 2023 · 11:30 AM CDT

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Photo of the CRB with size comparison. PC: Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture

The recent finding of a dead coconut rhinoceros beetle on Maui has prompted calls for vigilance among contractors and landowners to prevent the accidental spread of invasive species.

The Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, program staff from the Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council, and the five Invasive Species Committees in Hawaiʻi are urging extra caution in light of the finding.

To support these efforts, the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Council support staff, and the Invasive Species Committees have compiled a list of best management practices for coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB), little fire ants, and other species. 

This appeal comes at a time when the urgent need to address impacts from the Maui fires may increase the introduction of infested materials from off island.

The proposed reissuance of an emergency quarantine measure, Plant Quarantine Interim Rule 22-1, which restricts the movement of mulch and other potential CRB host materials from Oʻahu, is an important step, but by itself will not be adequate to the spread of this harmful pest. Contractors and individuals need to be sure that pests are not unwittingly moved in palm trees, green waste, mulch, loose or bagged compost, bagged soils, and similar items.

Throughout the state, the continued spread of pests poses significant risks: 

  • Kauaʻi: The recent arrival of the coconut rhinoceros beetle pest to Kaua’i (detected May 31, 2023) highlights the threat posed by the movement of infested material. A decade of research on controlling the pest could lead to eradication on Kaua’i, but limiting the human-vectored spread is critical to achieving this goal.  
  • O’ahu: Continued human-vectored spread will exacerbate the challenges in addressing this pest. 
  • Maui County: with the increased volume of material moved to and around Maui to help with fire recovery efforts (including mulch and imported coconut coir, mulch, or greenwaste for use in erosion control sock filler), mulch and compost for restoring burn scars, and plants for restoration, there’s an increased risk of introducing invasive species. 
  • Hawai’i Island: To date, CRB have not been detected on Hawai’i Island. Should they arrive, they would likely spread quickly, given the low population density and plentiful habitat that could lead to challenges in detecting and eradicating the pest. 

The best management practices highlight practices to prevent the spread of coconut rhinoceros beetles, but also provide general guidelines for little fire ants, coqui frogs, two-lined spittle bug, and other invasive species. 

For restoration projects, the best management practices provide guidance on fire risk assessments and non-invasive characteristics for selecting plants.  

For more information:

Dispelling Urban Myths With Science Can Save Your Ash tree


Dispelling Urban Myths With Science Can Save Your Ash tree

ENTOMOLOGY TODAY  2 COMMENTS

Large ash trees can be saved from emerald ash borer with timely insecticide treatment. Here, the ash tree on the left received injections of emamectin benzoate, while the tree on the right did not. (Photo originally published in Sadof et al 2023, Journal of Integrated Pest Management)

By Cliff Sadof, Ph.D.

When a mega-invasive pest like emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) arrives in a new urban forest, misinformation can spread in ways that cause needless expense and a massive loss of trees. Tired of seeing this pattern recur with the spread of emerald ash borer, my colleagues Deb McCullough, Ph.D., of Michigan State University and Matt Ginzel, Ph.D., of Purdue University and I gathered common myths we’ve encountered over the last two decades working with this pest since its detection in the U.S. In an article published in August in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management, we then addressed and confronted each of these misconceptions with our own research and that conducted by colleagues, published in refereed scientific journals.

Two decades after the arrival of the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) in North America, plenty of misinformation remains about how best to manage its impact. A group of experts on this pest offer bust several myths about emerald ash borer in a new article in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management. (Photo by Steven Ausmus, USDA Agricultural Research Service)

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is the most destructive forest insect to invade North American forests. Before EAB arrived, ash trees were common in city landscapes, parks, and along roads. This is largely due to the trees’ rapid growth, few serious pests, and ability to contend with the stresses of urban environments. Unfortunately, feeding by EAB larvae destroys the inner bark of a tree that carries nutrients from leaves to roots and the sapwood that carries water from the roots to the canopy. This starves and kills ever increasing parts of the tree from the top down. Dead branches dry out, become brittle, and are hazards for nearby property and people. Recent estimates suggest that over the next three decades, the loss of over 135 million urban ash trees will saddle U.S. communities with $1.8 billion annually in additional maintenance costs. To date, at least 36 states and five Canadian provinces are dealing with EAB, including Oregon, where EAB was detected in 2022. The impacts and spread of EAB are a problem that cannot be ignored.

After two decades of research, much has been learned about this once obscure insect. Although it seems all ash species native to North America can be colonized, host preference and resistance of trees to EAB vary. For example, healthy blue ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata) trees are resistant to EAB, and white ash (F. americana) trees show intermediate resistance, while green ash (F. pennsylvanica) trees are highly preferred and readily killed. Although research is under way to identify and propagate individual ash trees that demonstrate some level of resistance to EAB, such efforts cannot replace the hundreds of millions of ash trees that have already been killed.

Chemical control of EAB remains essential for maintaining the health of existing urban forests in areas invaded by this pest. Systemic insecticides that are applied to the base of trees are transported within the xylem as water moves to branches and leaves. Adult beetles that feed on leaves of a treated tree are killed, as well as larvae feeding beneath the bark. Ideally, systemic insecticide products are applied in spring or early summer to control newly emerged adult beetles, who must feed on leaves throughout their 3–6-week life span. Controlling recently emerged beetles (within 2–3 weeks of emergence) can prevent female beetles from completing maturation and laying eggs. This can also create some level of “associative protection” when EAB females that emerge from nearby untreated trees feed on toxic leaves of treated trees.

EAB populations and their impact on ash trees fluctuate in predictable patterns that can inform long-term chemical protection strategies. For example, long term studies showed spring trunk injections of emamectin benzoate provided three years of nearly complete protection, even as EAB populations and associated damage increased exponentially and nearly all untreated trees died. An essential element of protecting trees, however, involves beginning treatment while trees remain healthy and can transport insecticide to the canopy. As untreated ash trees die, the carrying capacity for EAB drops because there is little live ash phloem for larval development. This may provide an opportunity to extend the time between insecticide treatments. Such long-term strategies will hinge on the ability to monitor trees and respond when early symptoms of EAB attack are noted.

Symptoms and signs of emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) infestation include : a) late-stage larva extracted from its gallery, b) serpentine “zig-zag” galleries that etch the outer sapwood as larvae feed on inner bark (phloem); c) bark split over an old larval gallery; d) holes in the bark left by woodpeckers preying on late stage EAB larvae, e) bark scraped by woodpeckers preying on EAB larvae, f) stump sprouts and epicormic shoots on heavily infested trees. (Photo originally published in Sadof et al 2023, Journal of Integrated Pest Management)

Our analysis of the literature clearly demonstrates that it is more economically advantageous for communities to preserve ash trees using systemic insecticides compared with removal and replacement. Allowing nature to take its course is a budget-busting option that compresses costs of tree removal into 3-6 years when standing dead ash trees must be removed to protect property and people from falling limbs. This fact can be readily illustrated through using a web-based cost calculator that uses local estimates of treatment, replacement, and removal costs.

Regional cooperation on the national EAB.info website has been crucial in providing a reliable, centralized resource for extension information. Available information includes a regularly updated regional bulletin that discusses advantages and limitations of various control chemistries and application techniques.

Read More

Urban ash management and emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae): facts, myths, and an operational synthesis

Journal of Integrated Pest Management

Editor’s note: This article was of extreme interest to me as I have an ash tree in my front yard in Lincoln, Nebraska which I am trying to save and have treated with injections of emamectin benzoate three times and the tree seems to be thriving.

E. A. Heinrichs

IAPPS Secretary General

eheinrichs2@unl.edu

Austraalia: RNA shows biopesticide potential in canola, cotton trials


Austraalia: RNA shows biopesticide potential in canola, cotton trials

Susan Webster, September 4, 2023

Grain Central

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Verticillium is a fungus which affects plants including cotton, and has potential to be controlled by dsRNA. Photo: Chris Brosnan, QAAFI

MEDICAL technology that developed a speedy vaccine for COVID is now offering promise as a potential biopesticide for crops.

Queensland-based molecular biologists are looking at harnessing movement by a form of ribonucleic
acid (RNA) which delivers the DNA’s genetic instructions to a cell.

Plant geneticists at the University of Queensland are focussing on how forms of RNA can enhance plant protection and fight pests, viruses and fungal infections.

Recent research was detailed in a talk on Tuesday by Chris Brosnan, a research fellow and senior  research officer at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation’s Centre for Horticultural Science.

His work on canola, cotton and tomatoes is revealing how the RNA travels to various parts of the plant.

QAAFI researcher Dr Chris Brosnan.

“Foliar application of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-based biopesticides represents a sustainable alternative to traditional crop protection such as chemical pesticides, fungicides and insecticides,” Dr Brosnan said.

“Sprayed on leaves, the dsRNA enters the leaf vascular system and rapidly moves to the plant’s leaves, stem, flowers and seedhead.

“It also invades the roots.

“From there it appears to be functional against both fungi and viral pathogens. It has also been effective against whitefly.

“The bulk of the applied dsRNA doesn’t enter the plant cells, it goes into the fungus more efficiently.”

Earlier research has shown that topical application of dsRNA proved a very effective in controlling myrtle rust.

The researchers are aiming for an 80 percent benchmark control level against any pathogen.

Research with tomatoes and canola saw good movement throughout the whole plant and some activity in the roots, while cotton plants sprayed overhead also recorded movement down to older leaves.

“After two weeks, we saw intact dsRNA – in other words, it wasn’t a once-off effect.”

However, he said weather conditions could affect take-up.

“We had to add a penetrant to get past the cuticle of a leaf.

“It might change with drought and water stress, it depends on a plant’s water flow.”

The researchers are trying to use AI to train predictive models and hope to amplify its effectiveness.

“That means we could have a single spray which would be far more effective than having to dose it all the time.

“We are also looking at delivery of other RNA structures by using nanoparticles.

“For the first time we have defined the uptake and maintained movement of dsRNA and our research stands to add significant benefit to the emerging field of plant protection.”

Unzipping mRNA rallies plant cells to fight infection


New tool controls protein production in living cells, with potential applications from agriculture to medicine.

Peer-Reviewed Publication

DUKE UNIVERSITY

DURHAM, N.C. — Living things from bacteria to plants to humans must constantly adjust the chemical soup of proteins — the workhorse molecules of life — inside their cells to adapt to stress or changing conditions, such as when nutrients are scarce, or when a pathogen attacks.Now, researchers have identified a previously unknown molecular mechanism that helps explain how they do it.Studying a spindly plant called Arabidopsis thaliana, a Duke University-led team discovered short snippets of folded RNA that, under normal conditions, keep levels of defense proteins low to avoid harming the plants themselves. But when the plants detect a pathogen, these folded RNA structures are unzipped, enabling plant cells to make defense proteins to fight infection.This discovery doesn’t just apply to plants, the authors noted in their Sept. 6 publication in the journal Nature. They also found that these RNA structures have similar effects on protein production in human cells, too.“It’s another tool in our toolkit” to control protein production, said Duke biology professor Xinnian Dong, senior author of the study.In the soupy interior of every cell in the body, millions of protein molecules carry out the tasks of life: They are the cellular equivalent of bricks and beams, providing structure and support. They’re also the cell’s chemical messengers, sending and receiving signals. And they’re the defenders, deployed in response to foreign invaders.To build a protein, sections of the DNA blueprint packed inside the cell’s nucleus are transcribed into messenger molecules called mRNA, which are instructions for making proteins. These instructions are carried out to the rest of the cell, where decoding devices called ribosomes translate the mRNA’s message to assemble a chain of amino acids, the building blocks of a protein.Normally, ribosomes scan along the mRNA molecule until they find a special three-letter sequence that says, “start here to make a protein.”But in the new study, Dong and Yezi Xiang, a Ph.D. student in Dong’s Lab, found that, when an Arabidopsis seedling detects a potential pathogen, the plant’s ribosomes bypass the usual ’start’ signal for protein synthesis and begin translating the mRNA further downstream, building a completely different chain of amino acids — and thus a different protein — required for fighting infection.Dong and her team wanted to know: how do cells make the switch from one start site to another?To better understand this rapid cellular decision-making that takes place when a plant detects an invader, the researchers turned to a technique, called SHAPE-MaP, that allows them to detect changes in mRNA folding within living cells.Near the usual ‘green light’ that sets protein synthesis in motion, the researchers discovered short stretches of mRNA that fold back upon themselves to form double-stranded “hairpin” structures.Under normal conditions, these hairpins act as brakes, preventing ribosomes from making defense proteins whose instructions lie further downstream.But when Arabidopsis seedlings sense they’re under attack, special enzymes called RNA helicases are produced that unzip the hairpins so the ribosomes can pass through and continue scanning along the mRNA molecule.“With these stop signs removed, the ribosomes don’t stop there, but go further down to translate defense proteins,” Dong said.Though the team did the bulk of their experiments in Arabidopsis plants, similar RNA helicases and hairpin structures have been found in other organisms, from yeast to humans, suggesting that this mechanism for reprogramming protein synthesis may be widespread.In follow-up experiments, the researchers used machine learning to come up with a design for a lab-made mRNA hairpin and added it to human genes. The synthetic hairpins worked to alter protein production in human cells, too.The team has filed for a provisional patent on the discovery.Dong says the findings could lead to new ways to engineer crops that are “not only resistant to pathogens, but also to environmental stresses like heat, cold, and drought.”In the future, Dong said, it might also be possible to design mRNA hairpins for genome editing to help fight infections or treat diseases in people.“The goal is to help cells produce the right amount of protein at the right time and the right place,” Dong said. “This is a step towards that goal.”This work was supported by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation (IOS-1645589 and IOS-2041378), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the State Key Research Development Program of China (2019YFA0110002), the Natural Science Foundation of China (32125007 and 91940306), and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (R35-GM122532).CITATION: “Pervasive Downstream RNA Hairpins Dynamically Dictate Start-Codon Selection,” Yezi Xiang, Wenze Huang, Lianmei Tan, Tianyuan Chen, Yang He, Patrick S. Irving, Kevin M. Weeks, Qiangfeng Cliff Zhang & Xinnian Dong. Nature, Sept. 6, 2023. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06500-y

Benefits and Drawbacks of AI Agriculture Sustainability to the Economy. – Pakissan.com


This research paper examines the profound impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the agricultural sector and its benefits and drawbacks on our economy.It explores primarily the pros and cons to the countries economy and additionally various applications, benefits, and challenges of AI technologies in agriculture,discusses their potential to revolutionize farming practices for sustainability.

Agriculture is the primary source of food production globally. Ensuring a stable and sufficient food supply is essential for the well-being of the world’s growing population. Sustainable agriculture practices help meet this demand while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. Agriculture is also a significant driver of economic growth in many countries. It provides employment opportunities for millions of people, especially in developing nations so its sustainability is necessary. Agriculture is often the backbone of rural economies. Sustainable agriculture can stimulate rural development by providing income opportunities, improving infrastructure, and enhancing the overall quality of life in rural areas. Agriculture is a significant user of freshwater resources. Sustainable practices, such as efficient irrigation methods and soil management, can reduce water wastage and contamination.

A significant portion of the global food supply is lost or wasted, from farm to plate. Sustainable agriculture can contribute to reducing food waste.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a significant role in addressing agricultural challenges by enhancing efficiency, productivity, and sustainability across various aspects of farming and food production. Such as AI-driven technologies, for example satellite imagery, drones, and sensors, enable farmers to gather real-time data about their fields. Machine learning algorithms process this data to provide insights into crop health, soil conditions, and irrigation needs. This allows for precise resource management, reducing waste and optimizing crop yields.AI can analyze images of crops to identify diseases, pests, and nutrient deficiencies early in the growing season hence helping farmers detect targeted actions to be taken.AI models can analyze historical weather data, crop performance, and market trends to make predictions about future conditions. Farmers can use these insights to make informed decisions about planting times, crop selection, and marketing strategies, reducing risks and maximizing profits.AI-powered autonomous tractors and harvesters can perform tasks like planting, harvesting, and weeding with precision and efficiency. This reduces labor costs, minimizes fuel consumption, and can lead to more sustainable farming practices.AI can analyze soil data to provide recommendations for soil improvement strategies, such as optimal crop rotation and nutrient management additionally AI can optimize irrigation systems by monitoring soil moisture levels and weather forecasts, allowing for precise and efficient water usage which would benefit a great deal to scarce areas.

As mentioned the main goal for this research paper is to tell the benefits and drawbacks to economy by agriculture through the assistance of Artificial Intelligence. However, AI agriculture itself is a big challenge which is going to be further discussed in this paper and we will find out if it possible to accomplish this task or not while looking for our economy as well.

The historical context of agriculture sustainability and economic challenges are a complex and evolving story that spans thousands of years. In earlier years agriculture was the foundation of many ancient civilizations, including the Sumerians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. These societies developed sophisticated farming techniques, such as irrigation systems and crop rotation. However, many also faced sustainability challenges, including soil degradation and deforestation, in spite Practices like over farming and improper land management could lead to soil degradation and erosion. The resulting loss of arable land affected agricultural productivity and contributed to economic decline. Though during the the middle ages sustainable practices, like crop rotation and fallow fields, were developed to manage land use more effectively.

Furthermore, the Industrial Revolution in 18th century brought mechanization and technological advances to agriculture, however, the shift from traditional farming methods to more mechanized and industrialized agriculture led to significant rural-to-urban migration. While this contributed to the growth of urban economies, it often left rural areas economically depressed and resulted in the displacement of rural communities. These issues carried out throughout the years affecting the economies and the sustainability of the agriculture kept decreasing as newer innovations came such as high yield crops, modern farming practices etc.

Then there were new challenges such as climate change and a sudden increase in population for example the Great Depression, in the agricultural sector in the United States faced severe economic challenges. Falling agricultural prices, coupled with drought and the Dust Bowl phenomenon, led to widespread farm bankruptcies and rural economic hardships. Additionally, soil erosion, nutrient depletion, and degradation threaten the long-term productivity of agricultural land and these unsustainable agricultural practices which have contributed to land degradation and desertification in some regions. This can render previously arable land unusable and lead to economic hardships for affected communities. A significant portion of the food produced is lost or wasted, hence which leads to more economic issues. Lastly, Excessive use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers can harm the environment, human health additionally the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals in modern agriculture has led to environmental problems like chemical runoff into water bodies, which can harm ecosystems and lead to economic costs related to environmental remediation and health issues.

Due to these issues governments, international organizations and consumers were in quest to find solutions to these hurdles, therefore, Artificial Intelligence agriculture was introduced due to its efficiency and it provides aid for the economy as well. For instance some places where AI aids agriculture is: Machine learning algorithms analyze large datasets to make predictions about crop yields, disease outbreaks, weather forecast patterns, and optimal planting times. This helps farmers make data-driven decisions for crop management, resource allocation, furthermore, enables farmers to make more informed decisions about planting, harvesting, and marketing their products, potentially increasing profitability.AI-powered robots and autonomous vehicles can also perform tasks like planting, harvesting, and weeding. These technologies reduce the need for manual labor, increase efficiency, and can operate 24/7, improving overall farm productivity. While this may lead to some job displacement, it can also free up labor for more skilled and higher-paying roles, potentially balancing out the economic impact. Another major leverage offered by Artificial Intelligence is precision agriculture in which sensors, GPS technology, and AI algorithms enable precise planting, irrigation, and fertilization based on real-time data, leading to reduced waste and environmental impact. This increased productivity can boost agricultural output and contribute positively to the economy by increasing food availability and reducing prices. Moreover, AI helps farmers monitor soil conditions, moisture levels, and nutrient content for instance: Internet of Things (IoT) devices equipped with sensors are deployed in the field to monitor environmental conditions, plant growth, and livestock health which enhance resilience to climate-related challenges and reduce economic losses due to extreme weather events. Furthermore Artificial Intelligence can identify early signs of crop diseases and pest infestations through image analysis and sensor data, decreasing its impact to the economy as low as possible, in addition to this allows for timely interventions, reducing crop losses and the need for chemical treatments. The adoption of AI technologies in agriculture can stimulate economic growth in rural areas by creating job opportunities in technology development, maintenance, and support services, similarly also benefitting small-scale and remote farmers in improved market access by providing real-time market information and facilitating direct connections with buyers. This can result in higher incomes for farmers and boost the overall rural economy. Lastly, by increasing agricultural productivity and reducing food waste through better crop management, AI can contribute to global food security. Stable food supplies can help stabilize prices and reduce economic volatility related to food shortages.Frontiers | Towards making the fields talks: A real-time cloud enabled IoT  crop management platform for smart agriculture

Some examples or AI technologies being used are as follows: Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) are introduced in large sectors of the economy with relatively low productivity such as Agri-Food. According to UK-RAS White papers (2018) the UK Agri-Food chain, from primary farming through to retail, generates over £108bn p.a., and with 3.7 m employees in a truly international industry yielding £20bn of exports in 2016. Robotics has played a substantial role in the agricultural production and management. Kumar (2014) discusses about the different irrigation methods with the primary motive of developing a system with reduced resource usage and increased efficiency. Devices like fertility meter and PH meter are set up on the field to determine the fertility of the soil by detecting the percentage of the primary ingredients of the soil like potassium, phosphorous, nitrogen. The M2M that is, Machine to Machine technology is been developed to ease the communication and data sharing among each other and to the server or the cloud through the main network between all the nodes of the agricultural field (Shekhar et al., 2017). They (2017) developed an automated robotic model for the detection of the moisture content and temperature of the Arduino and Raspberry. The data is sensed at regular intervals and is sent to the microcontroller of Arduino, it further converts the input analog to digital. The signal is sent to the Raspberry and it sends the signal to Arduino to start the water source for irrigation. The water will be supplied by the resource according to the requirement Lie Tang et al. (2000) brought up a vision based weed detection technology in natural lighting. It was created utilizing hereditary calculation distinguishing a locale in Hue-Saturation-Intensity (HSI) shading space (GAHSI) for open air field weed detecting. Unmanned aeronautical vehicles (UAVs) can be remotely controlled (Mogli and Deepak, 2018). They work in confluence with the GPS and others sensors mounted on them. Drones are being implemented in agriculture for crop health monitoring, irrigation equipment monitoring, weed identification, herd and wildlife monitoring, crop spraying and disaster management (Veroustraete, 2015; Ahirwar et al., 2019; Natu and Kulkarni, 2016). 

As a result of all these developments there are countless of benefits to the economy and the agriculture but it also has some drawbacks which should be taken into consideration.First and foremost ss automation and AI technologies are integrated into agriculture, there is the potential for job displacement among farm workers. This can lead to unemployment or underemployment in rural areas, impacting local economies.Implementing AI technologies can be expensive, especially for small-scale farmers. The high upfront costs of AI systems and the need for training can be a barrier to adoption, potentially exacerbating economic disparities. Overreliance on AI and technology can make the agricultural sector vulnerable to disruptions caused by technical failures, cyberattacks, or changes in technology trends. This dependency can pose economic risks. Farmers need training to effectively use AI tools, and there may be resistance or reluctance to adopt new technologies and a shortage of skilled labor in rural areas can hinder the adoption of AI and automation, limiting the economic benefits. Collecting and sharing data for AI applications raises concerns about data privacy and security, as sensitive information about farming practices is involved leading to have economic repercussions and damage trust within the industry. In summary, AI in agriculture offers significant outcomes and benefits, such as increased yields, resource efficiency, and sustainability. However, challenges related to data, infrastructure, affordability, and ethical considerations must be addressed too. Many agricultural regions lack adequate internet connectivity and technology infrastructure, hindering the widespread adoption of AI solutions hence providing this infrastructure can lead to a big dent in the economy.

In conclusion, the marriage of agriculture and artificial intelligence holds the promise of a more sustainable and resilient future for our food production systems and our economy. Through my extensive research paper, we have explored innovative ways to optimize resource utilization, mitigate environmental impacts, increase agricultural productivity and most importantly enhance our economy. Moreover, the evolving nature of climate change and global food demands necessitate adaptive strategies that utilizes our economy efficiently. In summary, the economic impact of AI in agriculture is multifaceted, with both positive and negative aspects. Maximizing the benefits while mitigating the drawbacks requires a holistic approach that considers technological, economic, social, and regulatory factors. Policymakers, farmers, and technology providers should collaborate to ensure that AI enhances agricultural sustainability and contributes positively to the economy

In closing, my research underscores the profound impact that AI can have in building a more sustainable and resilient agricultural sector, while also yielding the best economic results. It is my hope that this study serves as a catalyst for further exploration and innovation in the field of agriculture sustainability through AI, ultimately paving the way for an improved economy, simultaneously accommodating a brighter and more food-secure future for all.

Abdullah Anwar



Bacterial pathogens deliver water- and solute-permeable channels to plant cells


Bacterial pathogens deliver water- and solute-permeable channels to plant cells

Monday, 18 September 2023 19:58:31

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Bacterial pathogens deliver water- and solute-permeable channels to plant cells’

Submission

Bacterial pathogens deliver water- and solute-permeable channels to plant cells

Nature

Nature (2023)Cite this article

Abstract

Many animal- and plant-pathogenic bacteria use a type III secretion system to deliver effector proteins into host cells1,2. Elucidation of how these effector proteins function in host cells is critical for understanding infectious diseases in animals and plants3,4,5. The widely conserved AvrE-family effectors, including DspE in Erwinia amylovora and AvrE in Pseudomonas syringae, have a central role in the pathogenesis of diverse phytopathogenic bacteria6. These conserved effectors are involved in the induction of ‘water soaking’ and host cell death that are conducive to bacterial multiplication in infected tissues. However, the exact biochemical functions of AvrE-family effectors have been recalcitrant to mechanistic understanding for three decades. Here we show that AvrE-family effectors fold into a β-barrel structure that resembles bacterial porins. Expression of AvrE and DspE in Xenopus oocytes results in inward and outward currents, permeability to water and osmolarity-dependent oocyte swelling and bursting. Liposome reconstitution confirmed that the DspE channel alone is sufficient to allow the passage of small molecules such as fluorescein dye. Targeted screening of chemical blockers based on the predicted pore size (15–20 Å) of the DspE channel identified polyamidoamine dendrimers as inhibitors of the DspE/AvrE channels. Notably, polyamidoamines broadly inhibit AvrE and DspE virulence activities in Xenopus oocytes and during E. amylovora and P. syringae infections. Thus, we have unravelled the biochemical function of a centrally important family of bacterial effectors with broad conceptual and practical implications in the study of bacterial pathogenesis.

Read on: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06531-5


China: Large trials of genetically modified corn and soybeans showed “outstanding” results


The country has not yet approved commercial planting of GM corn and soybeans, but has been studying them for years

By 

Reuters

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Published: September 18, 2023

News

Photo: File

China’s farm ministry on Aug. 24 said large trials of genetically modified corn and soybeans showed “outstanding” results and that the technology was safe and essential.

China has not yet approved commercial planting of GM corn and soybeans, but has been studying the crops for years, and this year significantly expanded the acreage of its pilot program.

Why it matters: Support for GM crops is growing in China, as the country increases its focus on food security.

In an article published in the state-owned Farmers Daily newspaper and reposted on the ministry’s website, the ministry’s Science and Technology Development Centre and the National Agricultural Technology Extension Service Center outlined the need for the technology and its safety record.

GM technology is “revolutionary” and “a new track that must be seized”, it said, adding the technology was “not optional”.

It added that progressing its use in China would prevent the gap with foreign countries from widening further.

President Xi Jinping has increasingly supported use of the technology, which he says is crucial to bolstering China’s food security. China is the world’s top soy importer and one of the top corn buyers.

Trade tensions with top corn supplier the United States, and war in the second largest supplier Ukraine, have also increased official worry over grain supplies.

“It is definitely a positive message. The message is clearly promoting biotechnology to the general public,” said a Chinese seed industry executive who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

He added that further positive messaging in coming weeks could signal that Beijing is getting ready to approve the crops for commercial use.

This year’s large-scale trials in 20 counties in the provinces of Yunnan, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Jilin and Sichuan showed “outstanding” insect resistance and herbicide resistance, the report also said.

The control of Lepidoptera pests such as Spodoptera frugiperda, also known as fall armyworm, was more than 90 per cent, it said, while 95 per cent of weeds were prevented.

It also said the yields were up by between 5.6 and 11.6 per cent.

Previous research showed GM corn yields increased by six to 25 percent, depending on the country.

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