A review of Solanum mauritianum biocontrol: prospects, promise and problems: a way forward for South Africa and globally
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The invasive tree Solanum mauritianum Scopoli remains one of the world’s most widespread environmental weeds. Despite biocontrol providing one of the few viable long-term solutions to tackling S. mauritianum invasions globally, only South Africa and, more recently, New Zealand, have programmes in place. Ongoing biocontrol efforts against S. mauritianum are reviewed here with particular reference to South Africa. The South African programme has suffered a troubled history, with considerable research efforts culminating in the eventual release and establishment of only two insect agents, Gargaphia decoris Drake and Anthonomus santacruzi Hustache. The difficulties experienced have hindered research into new agents, causing apprehension in using biocontrol internationally. However, recent studies have demonstrated that biocontrol may be deserving of renewed investment, particularly within an integrated management context. In this review, we advocate for the revival of the S. mauritianum biocontrol programme in South Africa, and discuss possible avenues for future research internationally.
- RESEARCH: Byrne, M