Invasive species pose a mounting threat to native ecosystems around the world, causing severe disruptions to public health, food security, and economic stability. To meet this challenge, the Biocomplexity Institute has partnered with global research agencies to develop SPREAD.
This unique toolset will be capable of modeling a host of complex factors that contribute to the expansion of agricultural pests and pathogens: biology, climate, trade, travel, supply chains, and farming practices.
The SPREAD project is supported by a grant from the IPM Innovation Lab funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Cooperative Agreement No. AID-OAA-L-15-00001.
SPREAD is currently being developed to study the dynamics of two major agricultural pests:
South American Tomato Leafminer
- This devastating tomato pest is a native to South America and has spread throughout the Mediterranean, Europe and parts of Asia.
- The tomato leafminer can cause up to 100% loss in crop yields if no control measures are taken.
- This insect is known to survive well in greenhouse conditions, and has been found in tomato shipping containers, indicating that human activities are a major factor driving its expansion.
- Though particularly harmful to tomatoes, this pest can also infest other Solanaceae crops such as potatoes, eggplants, peppers, and chili.
- The main control measure is through insecticides, though effectiveness is limited by the insect's capacity to develop chemical resistances.
Aproaerema modicella (simplexella)
- Aproaerema modicella, which has been prevalent in South and Southeast Asia for generations, is known for causing serious damage to groundnut, soybean and pigeonpea crops.
- More recently, groundnut leafminer infestation has been reported in parts of southern and eastern Africa.
- However, recent literature has highlighted the possibility that the South African infestation belongs to an Australian leafminer strain, Aproaerema simplexella, thus raising major questions in the research community relating to species identity and global spread dynamics.
For additional information on the groundnut leafminer, we recommend exploring these research articles.