Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ecologists: No magic bullet for coffee rust eradication

Date:
January 22, 2014
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
Spraying fungicide to kill coffee rust disease, which has ravaged Latin American plantations since late 2012, is an approach that is "doomed to failure," according to ecologists.

Spraying fungicide to kill coffee rust disease, which has ravaged Latin American plantations since late 2012, is an approach that is "doomed to failure," according to University of Michigan ecologists.

Instead, management practices focused on maintaining the complex web of ecological interactions among coffee plantation organisms -- including insects, fungi, plants, birds and bats -- are much more likely to succeed in the long run, according to the U-M researchers, who provide an overview of the recent Latin American coffee rust epidemic in a paper published online Jan. 22 in the journal BioScience.

Coffee rust is a fungus, but spraying fungicides to kill it may inadvertently destroy natural fungal enemies of coffee rust that help to keep it in check.

And the ongoing abandonment of traditional shade-growing techniques, in which coffee is grown beneath a canopy of trees, likely reduces the diversity and abundance of beneficial insects and opens the plantations to winds that help disperse coffee rust spores, according to U-M ecologist John Vandermeer and his co-authors, Ivette Perfecto and Doug Jackson.

"Small, seemingly trivial changes in environmental conditions can generate dramatic shifts in the underlying dynamics of the disease," the researchers wrote. "The techniques of so-called modernization (e.g., cutting shade, applying fungicides) may gradually eliminate what has been effectively autonomous biological control" of coffee rust.

"A movement back toward more shaded systems, with minimal application of agrochemicals, might be an appropriate recommendation for coffee farmers in the region."

Vandermeer is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. Perfecto is a professor at SNRE. Jackson was a U-M graduate student when much of the research was done and now works at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Vandermeer and Perfecto have operated research plots at an organic coffee plantation in southern Chiapas, Mexico, for about 16 years. Last year, more than 60 percent of the coffee plants there experienced more than 80 percent defoliation due to coffee rust fungus, and nearly 9 percent of the plants died.

The recent coffee rust epidemic damaged plantations from Mexico to Peru, and applying fungicide is one of the main control methods promoted in the affected countries. But generalized fungicides can also kill the white halo fungus, which is known to attack coffee rust.

If conventional disease control methods alone are used to address the coffee rust problem, the disease may prove to be intractable in Latin America, according to the authors. It's even possible that coffee rust will maintain its epidemic status indefinitely in the region, though additional research would be required to determine if that is likely to happen.

Coffee rust "threatens the livelihoods of millions of farmers and will potentially distort the economies of many of the world's most vulnerable nations," according to Vandermeer and his colleagues. "It is reasonable to suggest that the situation calls for a revitalization of what pest control specialists have come to call 'autonomous pest control.'"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Ecologists: No magic bullet for coffee rust eradication." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122133426.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2014, January 22). Ecologists: No magic bullet for coffee rust eradication. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122133426.htm
University of Michigan. "Ecologists: No magic bullet for coffee rust eradication." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140122133426.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins