Invasive plant potential threat to Canadian landscape

Jun 20, 2007

It might sound like something out of a 1950s B-movie but the potential proliferation of the native Asian tropical plant kudzu here in Canada is no imaginary threat, warns Professor Rowan Sage of ecology and evolutionary biology. His research suggests that the landscape-altering invader, once dubbed “the plant that ate the South” for its ability to kill trees and other plants by overtopping and shading them, may be headed this way.

Sage and his team are looking at climate controls on this invasive woody vine that currently covers over three million hectares in the U.S. and that after more than 100 years of having a stable northern limit is now migrating north.

Heather Coiner, one of the researchers on the kudzu project, hypothesizes that warming winter temperatures are responsible for kudzu’s recent invasions into the Midwestern U.S. and predicts that if warming trends continue, kudzu should be able to survive as far north as Canada in as little as 10 to 15 years.

This month the Sage lab was awarded a special “accelerator” grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, a funding top-up aimed at researchers deemed to be “on the verge of a breakthrough.” Future research will see tests developed to predict the movement of kudzu used to predict the range movements of other plants.

“It’s important to note that the Canadian government does not specifically regulate kudzu and it continues to be available for purchase from Canadian companies,” Sage said. “Our hope is that this research will be seen as an opportunity for the federal government to protect Canadian ecosystems and farms by pre-empting the possible invasion of Canada by this unwanted species.”

Source: University of Toronto

Explore further: Vaccines from a reactor

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

21 minutes ago

A total of 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly a quarter of the global population – are forced to pay bribes to gain access to everyday public services, according to a new book by academics at the Universities of Birmingham ...

Antarctica's retreating ice may re-shape Earth

21 minutes ago

(AP)—From the ground in this extreme northern part of Antarctica, spectacularly white and blinding ice seems to extend forever. What can't be seen is the battle raging underfoot to re-shape Earth.

Recommended for you

Sizing up cells: Study finds possible regulator of growth

5 hours ago

Modern biology has attained deep knowledge of how cells work, but the mechanisms by which cellular structures assemble and grow to the right size largely remain a mystery. Now, Princeton University researchers ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.