Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Mile Wide

Islands Business is reporting that Fiji and Papua New Guinea are about to become home to a fungus that is a promising biological control agent. The rust fungus, Puccinia spegazzinii, has been previously used in other parts of the world to control the invasive mile-a-minute weed (Mikania micrantha, not to be confused with Persicaria perfoliata, the mile-a-minute vine we know too well here in the mainland US). Scientists have been rearing the fungus on in quarantine on Fiji for a while now, and are set to begin releasing it into the wild before the end of the year. Farmers that grow kava (Piper methysticum) as a crop are hoping the fungus brings them some relief, since Mikania is a host for a virus that is known to attack kava as well.

Bonus points to Island Business for using scientific names in their report.

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