Devil in the detail

10 JUNE 2008

Microscopes have been enlisted in the fight against the summer perennial weed Silverleaf Nightshade. Researchers at the EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, an alliance between Charles Sturt University (CSU) and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, are half way through a project to look for innovative solutions to tackle the invasive weed. Silverleaf nightshade is estimated to cost agriculture millions of dollars every year in reduced crop and pasture production. Project leader Dr Rex Stanton says new research has shown that trichomes, or fine hairs, on the underside of the leaves may hold the key to tackling the invasive weed."Under a microscope the hair like structures are visible and they penetrate deep into the leaf, so understanding the basic anatomy of the plant may help us come up with better techniques to manage it," said Dr Stanton. The researcher is about to start planting trials with pasture species such as lucerne, phalaris, coxfoot and biserrula at sites across NSW. The project is funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.

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