Mexican beetles, an effective way to control carrot grass, says BHU prof

A team of BHU scientists is working on how to control the natural growth of carrot grass by its natural enemy ‘Mexican beetles’, which work like biocontrol agent in this case
BHU team working on carrot grass that is found in abundance across India. As soon as anyone touches any part of the plant, the toxin Sesquiterpene lactones found in the entire plant causes allergy, asthma, redness of skin in humans. (HT Photo)
BHU team working on carrot grass that is found in abundance across India. As soon as anyone touches any part of the plant, the toxin Sesquiterpene lactones found in the entire plant causes allergy, asthma, redness of skin in humans. (HT Photo)
Published on Jan 20, 2022 10:33 PM IST
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By, Varanasi

Mexican beetles may effectively control carrot grass, the weed which causes allergy, eczema, redness of skin and asthma in humans as they eat this grass very fast, says Prof Bhupendra Kumar, Department of Zoology, BHU.

Led by Prof Kumar, a team of scientists, including research scholar Priya Patel, Arvind Kumar, and Priyanka Yadav, is working on how to control the natural growth of this grass by its natural enemy ‘Mexican beetles’, which work like biocontrol agent in this case.

Kumar says Mexican beetles were imported from Mexico in 1984 to control this grass as the weed which travelled from Mexico to India via the USA in the fifties. At present, this grass is found in abundance across India. It grows along the roads as well as on farms. As soon as anyone touches any part of the plant, the toxin Sesquiterpene lactones found in the entire plant causes allergy, asthma, redness of skin in humans. Also, it is not good for livestock and soil. It makes soil barren or infertile.

Prof Kumar says this beetle has a long diapause period of about six months, while the grass keeps growing throughout the year.

“We are working to reduce the diapause period of these Mexican beetles so that they can remain active throughout the year and keep consuming the grass,” says Prof Kumar.

“We are trying to find the molecular pathways, which is responsible for a longer period of diapause in the beetle. Our research is going in the right direction, and we are quite hopeful that we will be able to decrease the diapause period by targeting the physiological pathways in these beetles in near future,” says Prof Kumar. He adds that controlling this weed is the need of the hour as it is growing fast with global warming.

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