UOG graduate student shares cycad research at national conference
University of Guam graduate student Benjamin Deloso collects samples of an invasive insect on a fadang tree, an endangered species of cycad on Guam.
University of Guam graduate student Benjamin Deloso represented Guam at the national conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science held July 30–Aug. 3 in Washington, D.C. Deloso shared the results of two Guam studies designed to improve conservation of Guam’s native fadang plant.
The 115-year-old society brings together professionals from all regions of the globe to advance the horticulture agenda.
“Horticulture is one of the major branches of plant science,” said Dr. Adrian Ares, Interim Associate Director of the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center at UOG. “Fruits, vegetables, landscape plants, and the cut flower industry are all examples of horticulture.”
The fadang plant is one of the world’s species of cycads, an ancient group of plants that has survived many world events that have led to extinction of many other groups of organisms. General knowledge about cycads is lacking when compared with other plants, and Deloso’s Guam-based research was designed to improve this knowledge.
The main threat to fadang trees on Guam is a small invasive insect. The tiny insect infests fadang trees and can kill large trees if left alone. Deloso presented the results of an island-wide survey designed to determine the extent of a natural enemy of the fadang tree. The information is useful for scientists who study how to control insects that damage crops in all regions of the world.
Endangered plants often suffer more when conservationists lack adequate information about how to identify and manage the threats. For the numerous endangered cycad species, lack of knowledge about how to grow them in nurseries is a widespread limitation. Deloso also presented results of a study designed to speed up the growth of small cycad plants in a Guam plant nursery. The results of the Guam research will have important applications for the numerous endangered cycad species globally.
“Two of our research faculty were involved in mentoring Deloso for this national endeavor,” Ares said. “This is an example of how UOG faculty can advance a research agenda that is relevant at the national and international levels.”