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10 Things to Know About… Invasive Species

Teagasc researchers feature in tonight’s episode of “10 Things to Know About …” - a science television series on RTÉ One (Monday, November 28 at 8.30pm).

10 Things to Know About… Invasive Species
Teagasc forestry researcher Gerry Douglas with Presenter Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin on tonight’s episode of “10 Things to Know About …” RTÉ One (Monday, November 28 at 8.30pm).

Invasive species are a threat to the planet’s environment and biodiversity, wreaking havoc on a country’s native flora and fauna, so what is Irish science doing to stop the aliens invading Ireland?

Chalara Disease (Ash Dieback) is a serious threat to our native Ash trees, which could in turn endanger the age-old craft of making hurleys. In Croke Park, former Tipperary manager Eamon O’Shea talks about the importance of protecting the hurling tradition. Presenter Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin meets Teagasc’s Gerry Douglas to see how Irish researchers are working to save our precious ash trees using DNA markers and hybrid breeding programmes.

Gerry Douglas explains: “The number of confirmed cases of Ash Dieback disease (Charlara) has increased despite major efforts to eradicate the fungus, which causes the death of shoots and after several years can kill trees. Ash dieback is spread by fungal spores that travel on the air from near and far”. Species of ash from Asia are naturally resistant to dieback disease and Teagasc is attempting to cross them with Irish ash as a first step to transfer the resistance into our native ash. “A very small proportion of trees in our native population of ash trees will prove resistant and we can use them for vegetative propagation and also as a basis for breeding and producing resistant seeds,” says Gerry. Research in Teagasc aims to identify resistant trees and develop the most efficient means to make available resistant plant material for the future.

Also in this episode, presenter Kathriona Devereux meets Colette O’Flynn from the National Biodiversity Data Centre to find out more about the invasives that are threatening our wildlife and, in the case of the Winter Heliotrope and Japanese Knotweed, even our roads and buildings. Kathriona then takes to the waters of Lough Key to see how Dr Frances Lucy and her team of IT Sligo researchers are making impressive breakthroughs in ridding our waterways of Asian Clams and Zebra Mussels which have the ability to alter the food web and compete with native species. In Weird Science, Fergus highlights Irish research that is challenging us to think, do we really know who we are? Presenter Jonathan McCrea puts on his night vision goggles to stalk Muntjac Deer, the little Bambis with an ASBO who are wreaking havoc on our environment and are being blamed for thousands of road accidents in the UK. With the first sightings of Muntjac reported in Ireland earlier this year, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast are trying to take decisive action before they overwhelm the whole island ... but their approach is not without its own controversy!

The promotional video for this episode can be viewed at: http://10thingstoknowabout.ie/teaser-promo-for-episode-3-aliens-invasive-aliens-that-is/