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Invasive Weeds--These Fungi Are Killers!
November 2, 2001
Agricultural Research Service fungi experts
have identified new fungal species that scientists at several U.S. laboratories
are testing as biocontrols for some of the United States major invasive
American farmers and homeowners spend millions to control weeds and other
organisms introduced from foreign countries. With the increase in international
trade and travel, the number of outside species becoming established in this
country is growing every year. Fungi provide a vast arsenal of ammunition to
control noxious weeds--both established and newly arrived--that invade
roadsides, rangelands and waterways, crowding out useful and native plants.
ARS mycologist Amy Y. Rossman, who heads the
Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory
in Beltsville, Md., says that fungi are among the most biologically diverse
organisms on Earth. Once discovered and characterized, many previously unknown
species can be put to work.
ARS mycologist David F. Farr at Rossmans lab is curator of the
ARS-Smithsonian U.S. National Fungus Collections maintained at Beltsville. Farr
uses the 1 million fungal specimens in the collection to discover, name,
scientifically describe and classify agriculturally important fungi.
Once characterized, the weed-control potential of these organisms can be
tested in field and lab experiments. Farr recently discovered several
fungi--two new to science-- that may offer nonchemical control of ragweed,
purple loosestrife, kudzu and morning glory. They are being tested at several
ARS research laboratories in the United States.
For more details on this research, see the
2001 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.