Knowledge for a sustainable world

The Challenge

Pine wood nematode (PWN) is the cause of pine wilt, a devastating disease of pine trees, which is often fatal to the tree. The disease is spread naturally by vector beetles of the Monochamus genus; the only vector identified conclusively in Europe is Monochamus galloprovincialis. When the beetle feeds on a susceptible host pine, the PWN enters the tree and feeds on the epithelial cells which line the resin ducts.

The Challenge

‘River blindness’ or onchocerciasis is a devastating disease affecting 37 million people globally, with rural communities the most at risk. The disease is transmitted by blackflies (Simulium spp.) that breed in fast-flowing rivers.When an infective blackfly bites a person, a nematode worm (Onchocerca volvulus) enters the person’s body, and nine months later may become an adult worm.

The Challenge

Farming is a risky business. In Africa, more than 500 million smallholder farmers – with an average farm size of 1–2 hectares – are at risk of high levels of losses prior to or after harvest due to variability in the weather and incidence of plant and livestock pests and diseases.