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XVI International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds
Iguazú Falls, Argentina
7th – 12th May 2023
The XVI International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds (ISBCW) was held at the Iguazú Events and Conventions Center (Amérian Hotel) at Puerto Iguazú, Misiones, Argentina. This symposium was delayed for a year due to the COVID pandemic as organisers felt it essential to maintain this meeting in-person. ISBCW aims to bring together practitioners, scientists and regulators working in the field of weed biological control to share their experiences, network, foster collaborations and discuss emerging issues that affect invasive plant management. The five-day symposium included 11 sessions and consisted of a total of 75 oral presentations and 100 posters from participants from all over the world. For details including the programme please see: https://isbcw-iguazu.com/ despite many of the presentations focussing on insect and mite agents, fungal pathogens were fairly well represented.
Some highlights for me included a talk by Robert Barreto (Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil) who gave the keynote in the Target and agent selection session, entitled “Weeds of missed opportunity: a plant pathologist’s perspective”. Marion Seier (CABI, UK) presented a poster entitled “A good match is hard to find- the case of classical biological control of Rubus niveus in Galapagos” and discussed the progress of her work with the rust pathogens (Phragmidium spp.) being considered for biological control of the weed. Gastavo Ramirez (CERZOS, Argentina) presented a poster on the potential of Septoria araujiae as a classical biocontrol agent for moth plant, Araujia hortorum. Alana Den Breeyen (Landcare, New Zealand) gave a very interesting talk on her project and discussed “Importing the rust fungus Uromyces pencanuspencanus as a biocontrol agent from Chilean needle grass (Nassella neesiana) into New Zealand- a decade long journey”. Alan Wood (ARC, South Africa) presented a poster “Establishment of the gall-forming rust fungus Uromycladium woodii on Paraserianthes lophantha in South Africa” which showed some impressive before and after images of galls on the weed since its introduction seven years ago.
The poster I presented entitled “Biocontrol of Old Man’s Beard, Clematis vitalba: fungi re-visited” in the Target and agent selection session, reported on the latest developments for this collaborative project with Landcare Research. I reported on the results of recent field surveys in the UK and Europe and discussed the suitability of the fungal pathogens found in the native range and their suitability as biological control agents for the invasive weed in New Zealand.
From a more social aspect, participants had the opportunity take a well-earned break from the symposium and to take part in the mid-symposium tour. This was a wonderful opportunity to visit the Iguazu National Park and experience the Argentinian flora and fauna. I would like to thank the BSPP for proving funds to travel to this symposium. It provided me with a valuable opportunity to network with other researchers in the field of weed biological control. The XVII ISWBC will be held in New Zealand in March 2026.
Sarah Thomas presenting her poster at ISBCW, Argentina, May 23.