Nematodes, tiny soil-dwelling animals, cause billions of dollars of crop losses each year. But researchers at U-Missouri and the University of Bonn "have found the first genetic evidence linking one method these animals use to attack plants," says a Missouri release. The scientists "proved that nematodes use a specialized hormone to help them feed."
Three types of tapeworms found in pork and fresh produce take the three leading places in a list of the 10 "food-borne parasites of greatest global concern" issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. "The parasites affect the health of millions of people every year, infecting muscle tissues and organs, causing epilepsy, anaphylactic shock, amoebic dysentery and other problems," says FAO.
There would be no significant environmental impact from releasing a parasitic wasp "to reduce the severity of infestations of" a tiny insect that spreads citrus greening disease, which kills citrus trees.
A scientist from Virginia Tech has discovered a way that plants communicate with each other at the molecular level. The research could provide a way to fight parasitic weeds that attack food crops, says the university.