Mississippi Local Implementation Team

Recent Developments in Invasive Species Control

By Keith Coursey, Silviculturist, DeSoto Ranger District 

An article in the Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) Alumni magazine revealed research that could have great implications for invasive species control.  Dr. Shiyou Li, Research Professor and Director of the National Center for Pharmaceutical Crops at SFASU, and his team have developed a method for isolating inherent plant chemicals (secondary metabolites) that are fatally toxic to the plant from which the chemicals were derived.  The toxicity/lethality is specific to the plant species from which the chemicals were isolated and based on preliminary tests, do not result in non-target effects on other plant species in the community in which these isolated chemicals were applied.  The end products of this process are known as “biological-like” pesticides (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2019).

Dr. Li presented his research to the Mississippi Local Implementation Team and partners, resulting in further collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station (SRS), Mississippi State University, and the University of Georgia.  Isolation of appropriate plant chemicals and application of promising “biological-like” pesticides on these undesirable plants in the greenhouse and field sites could advance identification of long-term solutions for problematic invasive plants such as cogongrass and Chinese tallow tree.