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U-M identifies 11 invasive pest, plant research projectsU-M identifies 11 invasive pest, plant research projects

State-funded research will manage threats to Minnesota agriculture and natural resources.

June 8, 2017

3 Min Read
RESEARCH FOCUS: Soybean aphid control is the focus of a few new University of Minnesota research projects funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center has awarded funding to 11 new research projects to identify and manage invasive species threats in the continued effort to protect Minnesota agriculture and natural resources.

The MITPPC is part of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. The funding for the 11 projects totals more than $4.5 million and was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources in the 2015 legislative session.

"Our natural resources and agricultural industries are at the core of Minnesota’s vibrant economy and high quality of life that we enjoy. The commitment of this funding by the Legislature means we in CFANS will continue to find solutions to changing threats to our woods, lakes and food crops,” says Brian Buhr, CFANS dean.

Projects range from decreasing the environmental impacts of soybean aphid management and implementing biological control of garlic mustard, to strategies to preserve valuable ash from emerald ash borer to detection tools, and treatment options for oak wilt. Other projects examine reed canarygrass management, European gypsy moth, soybean sudden death, weather and climate impact on woody invaders such as European buckthorn, invasive spotted wing drosophila and mountain pine beetle risks.

Below are the projects specific to agriculture.

• Aphelinus certus as a biological control agent of the soybean aphid in Minnesota: $600,000 to George Heimpel, entomology. The overarching research goal is to understand the extent to which the Asian parasitoid, Aphelinus certus, is suppressing soybean aphid populations throughout Minnesota and the extent to which this reduces the insecticide use. Cooperators include the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Zoo.

• Decreasing the environmental impacts of soybean aphid management: $570,000 to Robert Koch, entomology. Current management of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines, relies on application of broad-spectrum insecticides. The goal is to decrease insecticide use and ameliorate associated environmental impacts through development of aphid-resistant soybean varieties, and avoid unnecessary insecticide use through remote scouting. Cooperators include Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

• Distribution and traits of fungal pathogen Fusarium virguliforme that influence current and future risk to soybean and other legumes in Minnesota: $412,000 to Dean Malvick, plant pathology. Fusarium virguliforme is a relatively new invasive pathogen in Minnesota that causes sudden death syndrome on soybean and root rot on other legumes. The severe impacts of this pathogen are likely to stimulate greater use of fungicides, unless alternatives can be found. The overall goal is to fill in key gaps in knowledge of abiotic and biotic factors controlling the pathogen’s distribution and the diseases it causes, and to develop tools to accelerate breeding for resistant varieties.

Invasive species projects will rely on collaboration between CFANS and several organizations including the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; Minnesota Department of Transportation; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection; U.S. Forest Service; Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science; University of Nebraska; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Minnesota Zoo; The Nature Conservancy; Johns Hopkins University; The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International; Wheaton College Biological Field Station; and University of Alberta.

To learn more about these research projects, visit the  MITPPC website.

Source: U-M



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