Invasive insects and pathogens could be a multi-billion- dollar threat to global agriculture and developing countries may be the biggest target, according to a team of international researchers.
“Invasive pests and diseases are a major threat to agriculture, natural ecosystems and society in general,” said Matthew Thomas, professor and Huck Scholar in Ecological Entomology and a researcher in the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Penn State. “In the U.S. you only need to think about current problems such as Emerald Ash Borer or the Asian Tiger Mosquito and the potential threat of Zika virus to appreciate this. One of the challenges we face is predicting the next threat and where it will come from. This study explores some of these issues at a global scale.”
The researchers, who report their findings today (June 20) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed the impact of 1,297 known invasive insect pests and pathogens on 124 countries. They also determined which counties posed the biggest threats based on their trading partners and numbers of invasive species.
The United States, China, India and Brazil, all large agricultural producers, would have the highest potential cost from invasive species, according to the researchers. China and the United States ranked one and two, respectively, as the highest potential source countries for the pests.
View the paper in PNAS: Global threat to agriculture from invasive species
European Corn Borer (Ostrinia nubilalis), Credit: Jentsch Lab