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Biological control of Mikania micrantha in Papua New Guinea and Fiji using the rust fungus Puccinia spegazzinii

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Day, M. D., Kawi, A., Tunabuna, A., Fidelis, J., Swamy, B., Ratutini, J., Saul-Maora, J., Dewhurst, C. F. and Orapa, W. (2013) Biological control of Mikania micrantha in Papua New Guinea and Fiji using the rust fungus Puccinia spegazzinii. In: Proceedings of the Eighth International Workshop on Biological Control and Management of Chromolaena odorata and other Eupatorieae, Nairobi, Kenya, 1-2 November 2010. ARC-PRPRI, Pretoria.

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Mikania micrantha Kunth (Asteraceae), commonly known as ‘mile-a-minute’, is a neotropical plant species now found in 17 Pacific island countries and territories, invading small cropping areas and plantations, thereby reducing productivity and food security. In 2006, a biocontrol project on M. micrantha commenced in Fiji and Papua New Guinea (PNG). The distribution of M. micrantha as well as baseline data such as plant growth rates and socio-economic impacts were determined before the importation of any biocontrol agents. Mikania micrantha was recorded in all 15 lowland provinces in PNG and on all major islands in Fiji. Plants grow about 3.2cm/day in PNG and about 1.9cm/day in Fiji. A socio-economic survey, involving over 370 respondents in over 220 villages from 15 provinces in PNG, found that 78% of respondents considered M. micrantha a serious weed and about 44% had M. micrantha, which they needed to weed at least fortnightly, in over a third of their land. Over 80% of respondents used slashing and/or handpulling as the preferred method of weed control. About 40% of respondents considered that M. micrantha reduced crop yield by more than 30%. In Fiji, 52 respondents from four islands participated in the survey. Over 60% of respondents in Fiji considered M. micrantha a serious weed and 23% had about 30% of their farm lands infested with the weed. Only 15% of respondents needed to weed at least fortnightly, with 56% using slashing and/or hand-pulling as the preferred means of control. Over 65% of respondents estimated that they lost at least 30% of potential crop yield to M. micrantha. Nearly 90% of respondents used M. micrantha as a medicinal plant to treat cuts and wounds. The life history of the rust Puccinia spegazzinii de Toni (Pucciniales: Pucciniaceae), originating from Ecuador, and imported into PNG and Fiji in 2008, was studied. P. spegazzinii is a microcyclic and autoecious rust and has a life cycle of 18-22 days. An efficient culturing and field release method was developed. Since 2008, the rust has been released at over 450 sites in 15 provinces in PNG, establishing at nearly 70 sites in four provinces. From some sites, the rust has spread over 7 km in 12 months. In Fiji, the rust has been released at over 80 sites, on four of the main islands, namely Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Ovalau, and has established at 20 sites on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Plant growth studies and field monitoring in PNG showed that P. spegazzinii can significantly reduce the growth and density of M. micrantha and offers great potential for the control of this weed.

Item Type:Book Section
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Biological control
Live Archive:12 Dec 2013 01:46
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:49

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