Muni’s Musings


Hello readers,

Rangaswamy Muniappan, Director, IPM Innovation Lab, International Research, Education & Development. Tomato leaf miner research.Welcome to the third edition of our Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab newsletter. In this issue, we talk to Dr. Wondimagegnehu Mersie, the Principal Investigator on our Biological Control of Parthenium project, and Laouali Amadou, a Ph.D. candidate in entomology from Niger who studied with me for a semester here at Virginia Tech. We will also keep you up-to-date on our coverage in the media, the news in the world of invasive pests, and our upcoming events and workshops.

The Impact of IPM

The exceptional desire to move adoptable IPM technologies from north to south and to enhance south-south engagement has been a defining feature of the IPM Innovation Lab. Dr. George Norton, Professor of Applied and Agricultural Economics at Virginia Tech, conducted impact assessments of over a dozen technologies the IPM Innovation Lab introduced to developing countries and came up with a figure of over one billion dollars in benefits. And there are still many more impacts that the IPM Innovation Lab has had on the developing world that are yet to be assessed.

The technologies that we’ve introduced to various countries include the use of coconut pith for raising vegetable seedlings; seed and seedling treatment with Trichoderma spp., Pseudomonas fluorescens and Bacillus subtilis; grafting tomato and eggplant on resistant rootstock to overcome soil-borne bacterial wilt disease; biological control of papaya mealybug, pearl millet head miner and the weed Parthenium; use of pheromone traps for fruit flies, tomato fruit borer, cutworms, South American tomato leafminer, eggplant fruit and shoot borer, and okra fruit and shoot borer; and use of botanical and microbial pesticides which include fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes.

Innovative Projects

Some of the novel aspects of the current phase of the IPM Innovation Lab are modeling invasive species such as South American tomato leafminer and groundnut leafminer and assessing the impact of climate change on biodiversity by setting up transects in Nepal from sea level to 3,000 meters at 500 meter altitude intervals. Additionally we have expanded IPM package development to cereals, fruits and legumes. And to disseminate the information on IPM technologies beyond the host countries currently assigned, IPM Innovation Lab will be conducting two symposia at the international Congress of Entomology, Orlando, Florida, September 25-30, 2016.

Spread of the Tomato Leafminer

You have probably heard about the tomato crisis in Nigeria due to the South American tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta. In addition, Nepal and Bangladesh have just confirmed the presence of this invasive pest within their borders. Our efforts in forewarning the spread the tomato leafminer, have benefited some countries that prepared themselves ahead of the anticipated invasion by this pest. For example, including scientists from India in the Tuta workshop conducted at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in November 2013, resulted in the private company, Bio-Control Research Laboratory, which produces the Tuta pheromone for monitoring as well as to sell to farmers when this pest reached India in November 2014. And the Tuta awareness workshop conducted in Nepal and Bangladesh in February and May 2015, respectively led to early recognition of invasion and getting prepared to tackle this pest.

We hope you enjoy the third issue of our newsletter for this phase of the IPM Innovation Lab. We look forward to keeping you informed on our work, and if you have any questions or comments, please get in touch!

Warm regards,
Muni Muniappan
Integrated Pest Innovation Lab Director
Phone: 1-540-231-3516.

Muni’s Musings
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