25 Apr 2018
SCI's peer-reviewed journals provide commentary articles and research studies undertaken by top scientists in emerging areas whilst addressing global audiences by crossing academic, industrial, government and science policy sectors.
Northern tamarisk beetle larvae. Image: Roman Jashenko for Tethys Scientific Institute/Wikimedia Commons
Read the highlights from the May 2018 issues of our journals.
History of the herbicide glyphosate
Glyphosate has been a popular herbicide since its commercialisation in the 1970s. As a non-selective, slow-acting agent that moves easily through the transport system of the plant, glyphosate is effective in killing the plants meristematic tissues responsible for cell growth. These properties made glyphosate an effective agent for weed control. However, with a rapid increase in glyphosate-resistant weeds, the herbicides use is declining. Research has now disproved the belief that glyphosate treatment changed the mineral content and the susceptibility of the plant to pathogens. The adoption of new technology is now widely accepted, making its future in the industry uncertain.
This story is part of a series of articles written on glyphosate – the subject of a special issue of the journal Pest Management Science.
Semiochemicals increase beetle population and encourage weed degradation
Using aggregation pheromones and host-plant volatiles to control the spread of weeds in the field is an area of research that had not yet been widely reported. Now, scientists have shown that these agents – containing a wax-based matrix – can increase the local population of the northern tamarisk beetle Diorhabda carinulata and its larvae near saltcedar plants; the beetles main source of food. The weeds treated with these agents also showed greater levels of leaf damage consistent with weed degradation from pests than control plants. Aggregation pheromones and host-plant volatiles are therefore effective in directing populations of the beetle to the saltcedar plant. Different species should be investigated to see if the agents would have a similar effect in the field, the report says.
Increased management of plants needed for African food security
A long-time staple of traditional African diets, certain vegetables are now becoming more popular with more affluent urban communities. These plants are well adapted to the harsh climate of the African landscape and can grow with little to no care, acting as a reliable source of food when other crops fail. Filled with nutrients, the plants are essential for African food security and wellness – some are suggested chemotherapeutics. Now, with growing popularity, experts are calling for improved management practices of these plants to ensure availability and affordability, alongside high nutritional value, for the communities that need them most.