There's a plethora of misinformation, marketing, and hear-say related to growing horticultural plants. In this series, we digest replicated scientific data and research shared in popular science magazines (such as GrowerTalks) and share it with you, the listeners. Scientific papers are often behind a 'pay-wall' and riddled with academic jargon. Fortunately for you, both of the hosts of this show have a relatively limited spoken vocabulary and need to speak things out in very simple terms for their own simple minds to grasp them.
The hosts, Erfan Vafaie (Entomologist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service) and Vikram Baliga (Horticulturalist with Texas Tech University) are both on the verge of acquiring their PhDs (or not, if things go haywire). On the side, Erfan acts as fool as a part of an improv comedy troupe (Card 53 Comedy) and Vikram hits musical instruments to make harmonious sounds.
Using Lady Bugs to Manage Pests
Every year we get asked whether lady bugs can be used to manage pests. In this episode, we discuss a review paper on the effectiveness of exotic lady beetles to manage insect pests, but we'll also discuss the use of lady beetles in biological control in general.
Randoni et al. (2020). Exotic ladybirds for biological control of herbivorous insects – a review. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 169: 6 - 27.
Ep. 13. Horntail snail pest alert and growing plants on Mars
A new invasive snail has been observed near Miami (Florida) in August of 2020. If established, the snail can be problematic in nursery, greenhouse, fruit and vegetable production. Recognition is vital - if you see this snail, please report to state regulatory agencies right away (i.e. Texas Department of Agriculture). We also talk about the practical challenges with growing plants on Mars; something we're all going to encounter in the next 5 years or so... probably.
Horntail Snail: https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/93400/file/horntail-snail-pest-alert.pdf
Growing plants on Mars: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/mars-farming-harder-martian-regolith-soil
Ep. 12. Fraternal Twin of Ethylene in Plants
ACC, or more commonly known as 1-Aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid on the streets, is a precursor to ethylene, the compound most known for its ability to ripen fruit. ACC was not thought to have its own set of functions, but this recent article supports otherwise. A better understanding of plant physiology can lead to a whole new area of plant research, which includes potential management strategies.
Van de Poel, B. 2020. Ethylene’s fraternal twin steals the spotlight. Nat. Plants. 1–2.
Ep. 11. Bacteria in Whiteflies and Diabolical Ironclad Beetles
I've received reports of large migrations of whiteflies recently in the landscape, from Dallas, Austin and even east Texas regions. It's not uncommon to see large clouds of whiteflies when cotton is 'defoliated' in preparation for harvest; however, whiteflies often need some time to get used to their new plant host (acclimation). Changes in endosymbionts, bacteria found inside the insect that commonly have a mutualistic positive relationship with the insect, are a potential explanation for host shift acclimation. For fun, we also talk about the diabolical ironclad beetle and it's incredibly resilient properties that make engineers interested enough to study.
Asplen, M. K., N. Bano, C. M. Brady, N. Desneux, K. R. Hopper, C. Malouines, K. M. Oliver, J. A. White, and G. E. Heimpel. 2014. Specialisation of bacterial endosymbionts that protect aphids from parasitoids. Ecol. Entomol. 39: 736–739.
Hu, F.-Y., and C.-W. Tsai. 2020. Nutritional relationship between Bemisia tabaci and its primary endosymbiont, Portiera aleyrodidarum, during host plant acclimation. Insects. 11: 1–13.
Liu, X. D., and H. F. Guo. 2019. Importance of endosymbionts Wolbachia and Rickettsia in insect resistance development. Curr. Opin. Insect Sci. 33: 84–90.
Kanakala, S., and M. Ghanim. 2019. Global genetic diversity and geographical distribution of Bemisia tabaci and its bacterial endosymbionts. PLoS One. 14.
Weinert, L. A., E. V. Araujo-Jnr, M. Z. Ahmed, and J. J. Welch. 2015. The incidence of bacterial endosymbionts in terrestrial arthropods. Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 282: 3–8.
Vorburger, C. 2018. Symbiont-conferred resistance to parasitoids in aphids – Challenges for biological control. Biol. Control. 116: 17–26.
Ep. 10. Murder Hornet 'Slaughter Phase' and Plant Guttation
The Asian Giant Hornet is one of the many plagues that's hit us in 2020; but as fall approaches, it's thought they will enter the slaughter phase, when they can take out an entire bee hive within hours. Fortunately for us in Texas, recent models suggest that the the Asian Giant Hornet won't establish in Texas due to our suboptimal climate (and because they take "Don't mess with Texas" seriously).
We also discuss new findings on the importance of plant guttation as a nutritional resource for insects and the potential implications for systemic insecticides.
Matsuura, M., and S. F. Sakagami. 1973. A bionomic sketch of the giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, a serious pest for Japanese apiculture. 北海道大學理學部紀要. 19: 125–162.
University of Melbourne. 2020. 'Insect Armageddon': Low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects: Findings show even small doses of insecticides reduce capacity of insects to survive. ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2020. .
Urbaneja-Bernat, P., A. Tena, J. González-Cabrera, and C. Rodriguez-Saona. 2020. Plant guttation provides nutrient-rich food for insects. Proceedings. Biol. Sci. 287: 20201080.
Zhu, G., J. Gutierrez Illan, C. Looney, and D. W. Crowder. 2020. Assessing the ecological niche and invasion potential of the Asian giant hornet. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 0: 202011441.
Ep. 9. Poison Ivy Getting Worse and Beetles Escape Through Frog's Rear End
Increasing levels of CO2 is one of the driving factors for global climate change. This same CO2 also happens to be vital for plant growth via photosynthesis. As a result, fast-growing plants, such as poison ivy, are actually becoming more abundant and more hazardous.
If you were eaten by a frog, how would you survive? Well, these water beetles survive by swimming 'downstream'.
And lastly, here is a link to provide you nightmares of swarms of fungus gnat larvae.
As Jolly and Green as they come
Educational but also fun, this podcast does a pretty decent job at covering some of the modern science relevant to the green industry. I think these two guys are new to cohosting together, but can tell their chemistry is improving. That Erfan guy is a bit tall a may need to crouch down a bit lower to speak into the mic. Vikram might be a plant.
Great new show!
I really enjoyed episode 1! The hosts made science funny and approachable and I can't wait to see where it goes from here!