Sexual reproduction may produce long-term benefits

Researchers have discovered why courtship rituals – which can be all-consuming, demanding time and effort – might actually be worth it.

Attracting a mate – which can take significant effort, such as in a peacock’s show of feathers or the exhaustive rutting of stags – can produce benefits for a species in the long term, a study suggested.

Scientists have shown that animals and plants, which reproduce sexually are at a considerable advantage to those species – such as some insects and reptiles – that reproduce without a partner.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh studied sexual reproduction in tiny fruit flies to learn more about how DNA is randomly shuffled when the genes of two parents combine to create a new individual.

They found that this recombination of genetic material allows for damaging elements of DNA – which might cause disease or other potential drawbacks – to be weeded out within a few generations.

Individuals who inherit healthy genes tend to flourish and pass on their DNA to the next generation, while weaker individuals are more likely to die without reproducing.

Tree plan introduces bugs

Brazilian insect could slow growth of nonnative strawberry guava tree

The state is once again seeking approval to release a Brazilian scale insect into Hawaii forests to control the spread of the popular but environmentally needy strawberry guava tree.

    Acres already densely infested
    Acres of native forest areas that could become densely infested at current rates of growth
    Acres of native forest not yet threatened

The state Department of Agriculture is expected to release an environmental assessment today, and the public will have 30 days to weigh in on the controversial bio-control initiative, which has been hotly debated for the past two years.

The assessment notes that the nonnative strawberry guava, which does not have a natural predator in Hawaii, crowds out native plants and animals and reduces the amount of water in soil, streams and groundwater systems by as much as 50 percent during dry periods. According to information cited in the study, strawberry guava also threatens Hawaiian archaeological sites and supports the proliferation of fruit flies, which can damage commercial produce.

"At its current trajectory, strawberry guava will take over all native plants statewide unless something is done," said Christy Martin, public information officer for the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, which coordinates alien pest responses by the state departments of Agriculture, Health, Land and Natural Resources and other agencies.

New fruit fly threatens Oregon’s fruit and berry crops | Oregon Environmental News – –

A tiny fruit fly with a vicious nickname may threaten Oregon’s bountiful fruit and berry crops, state agriculture officials say.

The Spotted Wing Drosophila, sometimes called the "dragon fruit fly," has been found in Oregon from Portland south to Douglas County. Unlike more common fruit flies, which feed on overripe or rotten fruit, the Drosophila attacks ripe, healthy fruit. Just a couple larvae can damage fruit to the point that it can’t be sold. The fly’s presence may cause other states and countries to ban fruit and berry shipments that are coming from Oregon.

Infestation shows up as small scars or indented soft spots on fruit, left by the female fly’s stinger. Eggs hatch in one to three days, and the maggots feed inside the fruit, which begins to collapse or rot around the site.

The fly is native to southeast Asia but has spread to Hawaii, Florida and, most recently, California. It attacks apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, among other crops.

Does the fly’s appearance in Oregon mean farmers will be using more or stronger insecticides? That’s unclear, because the state doesn’t yet have a management plan. The Oregon Department of Agriculture is urging farmers to set commercial or homemade traps to monitor the fly’s presence while the department develops recommendations for suppressing them.

New fruit fly threatens Oregon’s fruit and berry crops | Oregon Environmental News – –

Hawaii growers urged to clean up exports-The Honolulu Advertiser


By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

rejectedHawai’i’s $125 million agricultural export industry could be threatened by hitchhiking insects and other pests found on fresh flower, foliage and fruit shipments arriving in California.

Budget cuts have left California with fewer inspectors and made that state more prone to slap sanctions on importers when pests are discovered. Hawai’i may also lose inspectors if the state lays off workers in November as planned to balance its budget.

Five key agricultural officials sent a warning letter this month to hundreds of Hawai’i growers and shippers who sell flowers, foliage, herbs, vegetables, potted nursery products and fruit, alerting them to the potential risk of not cleaning up their shipments.

"Anyone that currently ships to California can be the ‘last straw’ that triggers the decision by California to impose severe restrictions on the movement of all products from Hawai’i into the California market," the letter states.