Project introduction - Authors
Thrips (Order: Thysanoptera) are key pests of highly value horticultural and staple food crops worldwide. Thrips inflict substantial qualitative and quantitative losses due to their feeding, transmission of tospoviruses and their relevance as quarantine pests. The cryptic feeding behavior, small size and diverse character states of nearly 6000 recognized thrips species has made difficult their detection and identification during phytosanitary inspections.
Further a declining group of thrips taxonomists world-over has made precise identification of thrips an uphill task. Rapidly expanding trans-border trade of crop produces in addition to constraints associated with detection and identification has resulted in thrips emerging as a rapidly growing group of invasive organisms.
Precise and timely identification is very critical for better understanding of thrips diversity, formulation of effective management strategies and for early detection and prevention of invasive thrips species. Recently taxonomists world over have taken advantage of developments in information and communication technology to formulate user-friendly identification tools and systems for several organisms including thrips (Moritz et al., 2004, 2009; Hoddle et al., 2008). These tools are extensively used by thrips biologist world over and to some extent constraints for identification of thrips has been reduced.
As observed elsewhere in the world, thrips and tospoviruses transmitted by thrips seriously affect productivity of several staple food crops such as maize, beans, cowpea, dolichos, and peanuts, and several horticultural crops such as French bean, onion, tomato and pepper, threatening food and nutritional security in Africa. In spite of their economic importance, information on thrips diversity in Africa is very sparse and not accessible easily. This is a serious constraint for economic entomologists, plant virologists and quarantine officers in Africa to develop effective monitoring and management strategies for thrips and tospoviruses transmitted by thrips.
Export horticulture sector in many African countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa and other upcoming countries has recorded tremendous growth over the years, generating the much needed foreign exchange reserves for the national income and provide gainful employment to millions of people in Africa. Many of these export horticultural crops including flowers like roses, carnation and other cutflowers; vegetables like French bean, crucifers, chillies, eggplants, cucurbits and others; and fruits like citrus, avocado and melons are severely infested by native and invasive thrips species. Sustained growth of the export horticulture sector in Africa is only possible if effective monitoring and identification systems and tools for native and invasive thrips of Africa are developed. These tools need to be made available to quarantine officers and economic entomologists and plant virologists in Africa and in destination regions such as in America, Europe, Asia and Australia. This information and identification tool for pest thrips in East Africa developed under the LucID 3.5 platform is a first step towards addressing the above critical capacity needs in Africa.
Hoddle MS, Mound LA & Paris DL (2008). Thrips of California. Centre for Biological Information Technology, Queensland, Australia, CDROM
Moritz G, O'Donnell C & Parrella M (2009). Pest thrips of North America. Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland, Australia, CDROM ISBN-13: 978 1 86499 940 2
Moritz G, Mound LA, Morris D & Goldarazena A (2004). Pest thrips of the world - an identification and information system using molecular and microscopial methods. Centre for Biological Information Technology, University of Queensland, Australia, CDROM ISBN 1 86499 781 8
Web linksMound´s Thysanoptera pages