New Grants to Fight Invasives

 Oak wilt symptoms (Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, bugwood.org). 

Oak wilt symptoms (Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, bugwood.org). 

     The Minnesota Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPPC) will be providing four research projects with $1.24 million in funding to help find new techniques and technologies to effectively manage invasive species in Minnesota forests, prairies and agriculture.  

     "These projects represent integrative, coordinated, cross-departmental approaches to invasive species research," said Rob Venette, director of MITPPC. "These projects also support several post-doctoral researchers and graduate students, providing Minnesota with the next generation of scientists to address the challenges posed by terrestrial invasive species."

     The funded projects are:

Novel Diagnostic Tools for Rapid and Early Detection of Oak Wilt: $150,000 to develop new technologies for rapid and early detection of the non-native, invasive fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum, which causes the mostly fatal disease in oak trees.  Principal investigator is Abdennour Abbas, assistant professor in the bioproducts and biosystems engineering department.

Early Detection, Forecasting and Management of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys: $597,795 to create a multi-stakeholder, comprehensive approach for early detection and forecasting, via phenology and climate change models, to improve the timing of management strategies for the brown marmorated stinkbug. Principal investigator is William Hutchison, professor of entomology

Climate Change and Range Expansion of Invasive Plants: $170,000 to develop and validate predictive distribution models of high-priority invasive species under current and future climates. Research will focus on nine weeds on the Minnesota‚Äôs noxious weed list: Palmer amaranth, narrowleaf bittercress, oriental bittersweet, brown knapweed, black swallow-wort, Grecian foxglove, common teasel, Japanese hops, and Dalmation toadflax.  This work will improve detection and establish priorities for eradication and management. Principal investigator is David Moeller, professor of plant biology.

Cover it Up! Using Plants to Control Buckthorn: $327,000 to develop management tools to limit buckthorn re-colonization following its removal, by identifying cost-effective methods of establishing dense cover of preferred plant species that will suppress buckthorn regeneration. Principal investigator is Peter Reich, Regents professor and F.B. Hubachek, Sr. chair in forest ecology and tree physiology 

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