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Author Topic: Scientists Track Beetles in Effort to Stop Plant Plague  (Read 312 times)

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Scientists Track Beetles in Effort to Stop Plant Plague
« on: May 08, 2017, 08:55:58 AM »

Rob Dunn is trying to prevent squash heart attacks.

Carried by the spotted cucumber beetle, a bacterial disease is giving squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons the botanical equivalent of clogged arteries. Wilting leaves are the first sign as the bacteria multiply in the plant's circulatory system. The disease can nearly wipe out a farmer's field.

"It's a bad way to die," Dunn said. "All your veins have been filled up with some bacteria."

Dunn, an ecologist at North Carolina State University, said the way we farm today makes it easy for this and other plant plagues to spread.

Modern farms raise just a few crops over wide areas. While they feed more people more affordably than ever, there are risks in this way of feeding the world.

For a hungry pathogen, a giant monoculture is "the holy land, right? It's unbelievable. You can eat from one end to the other," Dunn said.



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