Rust fungus on balsam

warrenslaney

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In August last year Cabi, sponsored by the EA and DEFRA, released a fungus they brought from Nepal, to limit the growth of Himalayan Balsam in this country.

How's that going? Does anyone know?
 

Guest105

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The Calder river trust have had permission to release the rust here in Yorkshire, but it's too early yet to say what the results are.
Hopefully we should have more info next year when the effects (if any) can be seen.
Meanwhile we are still Balsam bashing with slashers and trampling.
Next bash is organised for the 25th of this month at Wellholme Park in Brighouse (HD6 4AF) from 1400.
Also Bug trays and ID for kids, nature goodie bags, painting comp and other active pursuits like kick sampling.
All invited.
 

BobP

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Always a bit wary about releasing a foreign "bug" to eat another foreign invasive species. What happens when that species has been dealt with, assuming it can be? Does the "bug" then start eating the next best thing on its list? Something that we would rather like to have around for instance?
 

splinters

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From the website....


"The ultimate aim of the project is to find a co-evolved insect or plant pathogen that exclusively attacks Himalayan Balsam, which can be released into the UK to control the plant whilst leaving indigenous species intact, so that the ecosystems can be restored.

Since 2006, surveys have been conducted throughout the plant’s native range to identify natural enemies that could be considered as biocontrol agents in the introduced range. Many of the natural enemies, both fungal and arthropod species, collected and identified during the survey have been rejected as suitable control agents. We undertook safety testing procedures in our UK quarantine facility, and found they were able to attack other closely related to Himalayan balsam.

One natural enemy, a rust fungus, which was observed causing significant impacts on Himalayan balsam in the Indian Himalayas, was exported to our quarantine facility in the UK in 2010 to undergo extensive safety testing. The rust, a Puccinia species, is an autoecious, macrocyclic (completing its entire life cycle on a single species), five spore staged rust fungus which infects the stem and leaves of Himalayan balsam throughout the growing season."

Link...
Biological control of Himalayan balsam
Looks interesting stuff.

Simon.
 

sewinbasher

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The NRW in Wales recently told us that they were still trialling the rust to make absolutely sure it won't target anything else before releasing it for use. They didn't give the impression that its widespread use was imminent.
 

Theo

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In August last year Cabi, sponsored by the EA and DEFRA, released a fungus they brought from Nepal, to limit the growth of Himalayan Balsam in this country.

How's that going? Does anyone know?
Warren, I've been wondering about that too. Once the quarantine order was lifted by the Minister, I know the rust was supposed to be released at c5 sites across the south of the UK, with the idea that we might start seeing preliminary results this year.

According to presentations at a stakeholders' meeting last summer, the rust is very narrowly host-specific (to the extent that in extensive testing it was shown to only affect one single very close cousin of HB).

Once it's out there in the wild, it's out there, and will spread by wind, air currents etc to all parts of the UK, although additional localised releases will increase the speed of spread. As black knight suggests, the rust won't be capable of eradicating HB, but will knock it back to the extent that it's a 'good neighbour' that's less capable of dominating native plants, and should make it easier for us to control.

I did note one suggestion that we might be asked to limit or suspend HB bashing in some areas in early years to help the rust to get properly established, but have heard nothing more on this.

Any more for any more?

Theo
 

MrP

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Can't come soon enough!
Bit late for the Monnow catchment where we've spent 11,000 hours to bring it under control (so far!)
We are proving it's possible but I cannot realistically see many other catchments investing and committing to that degree.
Catchments such as the Wye or the Usk for example will take many times longer.
 

Cranefly

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We are quite right to be wary of releases of anything even if it is to control HB. Personally I have my doubts about its effectiveness. Fungi and rusts, in particular have specific conditions and requirements for growth. Any arable farmer or horticulturalist will tell you that some types of rusts do well in cool wet summers and others do well in hot dry years. There is, obviously, a huge difference between laboratory conditions and GB's climate, never mind that of the "Himalayas", where both are native.

Two years ago, on the Monnow, prior to the rust's release, we found a patch of HB that had keeled over and died. Part of the lower stem was blackened by a fungus that looked to me like botritus. I took samples to a plant pathologist at ADAS who also noticed a fungus in the roots of plants. CABI and ADAS are investigating further and supposedly doing trials. This after CABI had written to say that no native fungi attacked HB!

In the meantime on the Monnow, as MrP says, we prefer NO HB in our catchment and so will continue to battle it over a total length of nearly 100kms of rivers and streams. We will win!
 

warrenslaney

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A couple of things have always worried me about this project. Firstly, look [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk8dgh_h-34"]here [/ame]at 3:51. The native guide is reaching to find a plant in a staged shot but with a back-drop of balsam that would not look out of place on the banks of the River Amber in Derbyshire! No visible impact of a rust fungus in its native range there. Secondly, the team's brief was to find something to inhibit balsam. They were going to do that whatever, or fail.

For inhibiting balsam, I haven't yet found a replacement for hard work, nettle stings, sweat in the eyes, bramble cuts, twisted ankles and very long, long days on the strimmer, and I dont think this is it either.
 

Paul G

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Always a bit wary about releasing a foreign "bug" to eat another foreign invasive species. What happens when that species has been dealt with, assuming it can be? Does the "bug" then start eating the next best thing on its list? Something that we would rather like to have around for instance?
It went through absolutely masses of testing to confirm that it can only survive on Himalayan balsam.

The only common factor that people have been able to find in species that become invasive (rather than just "non-native") is that they are brought in without their natural disease or control organism(s).

---------- Post added at 10:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:46 AM ----------

I'll be interested to see what the efficacy is like - because some of the CABI biocontrol projects have been very successful (I saw slides of some amazing impacts on "parrot's feather" in lakes totally clogged with it).
 

sedgeking

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For inhibiting balsam, I haven't yet found a replacement for hard work, nettle stings, sweat in the eyes, bramble cuts, twisted ankles and very long, long days on the strimmer, and I dont think this is it either.
Hi Warren:D

Because your right......I hope your wrong.

We could certainly do with a helping hand:thumbs: and I think this prospect is well on the cards.
We simply don't have enough resource like the stalwarts on this thread and community support to cover the whole country.
The reality is that Cranefly and co are THE 'best practice' for an eradication at catchment level and Rob was 7'5" before the nettle stings, bramble cuts and spine shrinkage from the strimmer.:whistle:

CABI have been working on this for 8yrs,in the labs, and yes there are technical difficulties in the transfer from lab to reality, but to rest all minds, the scientific due diligence side of things is now well and truly covered.
129 of its relatives (and other plant class/orders) in the Impatiens family are all safe from the rust (gardeners placated that their Bizzy-Lizzy isn't going to keel over ) and even the National Bee-keepers Association are positively on board through the consultation process though I'm not sure ALL its members are convinced about losing the monoculture so be prepared to repair a damaged seed bank if/where required
The potential spread rate far exceeds that that can be covered by single man or community and with a fully cycling fungus, the biomass reduction at a national scale could have a huge positive impact on our native biodiversity.

I submit that both Cranefly and CABI have shown that 'its possible' but both techniques need refinement yet.
We need to understand how to generate charitable community spirit and make it sustainable for several years.
We need to understand pathways and infection rates for cyclical fungi in OUR climate and micro-climatic catchment conditions. As pointed out some years we may have only a few meters of movement then others it could be 100km over a huge swath.....just as we see with 'Potato Blight' which translocates in a similar way.

Id be happy to see greatly reduced biomass of HB in our countryside and towns......currently there's places on the River Calder you cant see the heracleum mantegazzianum and falopia japonica let alone the river itself:eek:mg:
 

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