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Biological Pest Control Case Study - the cassava mealybug

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Introduction

Kelsie Male Information The Cassava plant was brought to Africa from South America in the 16th century. The next four years the starchy thickened roots became the main source of food for millions of Africans, providing up to 70% of the recommended daily intake. The cassava plant is the habitat of the cassava mealybug and is damaged by the insect. The problem ? The cassava mealybug- eating cassava plant- biological control of mealybug by using wasps. When the cassava plant was introduced to Africa most of its predators for example mites and plant diseases, were not also introduced therefore leaving the plant free of most of its predators but in the 1970?s a pest called the cassava mealybug was accidently introduced from Latin America(2) The pest is a rare insect but it quickly spread across the entire cassava plant growing area and due to the lack of natural predators within 10 years it became the most important pest insect on cassava causing a loss of up 80% of crop. The mealybug(5) shown on left hand side of text has damaged the cassava plants by sucking sap from roots, tender leaves; petioles and fruit form the plant. ...read more.

Middle

Implications Environmental- An environmental implication is that when the wasps are introduced to south America there was a risk that it could have a huge impact on the food chain as by taking away one organism or gaining one can have a knock on effect on others for example of the wasp was then hunted by a predator this could leave its normal pray to multiply therefore having an over population which in turn can then have knock on effects to their pray and so on and so on until extinction of a food source. Causing problems for South America in the economy and for the environment also. This environmental implication causes an imbalance of the natural balance of wildlife; this may have a knock on effect of the overall environmental surrounding and the effect on the human population. Economic For the farmers of Africa the economic impact has been useful and successful by increasing dramatically there yield percentage therefore increasing the money income. Every pound of investment in the mealybug project control work has returned between 200 and 500 pounds. These benefits to the environment from this environmental solution with no costs but a huge increase in crop harvest, obviously is a clear advantage economically to the farmers. ...read more.

Conclusion

He then became involved in plant genetic engineering research and showed that there were numerous genes which were potentially useful in crop plants but they were struggling to find a method for delivering these genes into the plant genome, there was no transformation technology(8) . Further research showed that shooting DNA into cells thereby penetrating cell walls and membranes. This was called the gene gun and it was able to transform early transgenic crops. This gene gun would be able to in theory change the genetic makeup of the cassava plant so that it could offer some sort of protection against predators. This would also have risks as you do not know how the modification will affect all of its predators and could therefore have an effect on them so may cause harm in some way. Although there is less risk in destroying the natural environment as it is not causing other insects a problem. Conclusion In conclusion the biological control of the mealybug has had a huge effect and has caused the problem of the economy and environment to be resolved therefore keeping harmony between the organisms and the human population by keeping a natural balance between the small wasp and the mealybug. Word count- 2020 ...read more.

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