Cactaceae Programme

Programme Manager: Dr Iain Paterson

One of the most prevalent and problematic groups of invasive alien species in South Africa are plants in the family Cactaceae which have serious negative impacts on communities, indigenous biodiversity and agricultural productivity. As with many invasive alien species, the negative effects of cactus invasions have serious consequences for the poorest and most marginalised members of our society. Biological control is an effective, safe and sustainable way of reducing the negative impacts of invasive alien cacti, at a fraction of the cost that would be required for physical removals or control using herbicides. Biological control should be considered the primary management intervention for all widespread invasive cactus weeds in South Africa.

Within the Centre for Biological Control, the Cactaceae Programme works on the development of new biological control agents for cactus species that are not under acceptable levels of control. The CBC also mass-rears, releases and monitors the impact of successful cactus weed agents that have been released in the past. This ensures that the people of South Africa get the maximum benefits from biological control agents that are already available in the country.

There are a number of post-graduate students working on Cactaceae related projects. The mass-rearing facility in Uitenhage is focused specifically on rearing a culture of cochineal for the different species of Cactaceae in South Africa. Ruth Scholtz is the manager of the Uitenhage Mass Rearing Facility, and Dr Iain Paterson is the overall manager of the Cactaceae Programme within the CBC.

Uitenhage Mass Rearing facility

Key readings

Paterson ID, Hoffmann JH, Klein H, Mathenge CW, Neser S, Zimmermann HG (2011) Biological control of Cactaceae in South Africa. African Entomology. 19(2): 230-246.

Paterson ID, Coetzee JA, Hill MP, Downie DA (2011) A pre-release assessment of the relationship between the invasive alien plant, Pereskia aculeata Miller (Cactaceae), and native plant biodiversity in South Africa. Biological Control. 57: 59-65.

Paterson ID, Vitorino MD, de Cristo SC, Martin G, Hill MP (2014) Prioritization of potential agents for the biological control of the invasive alien weed, Pereskia aculeata (Cactaceae), in South Africa. Biocontrol Science and Technology. 24:407-425.

Zachariades C, Paterson ID, Strathie LW, Hill MP, Van Wilgen BW (2017) Assessing the status of biological control as a management tool for the suppression of invasive alien plants in South Africa. Bothalia. 47(2): a2142.

Last Modified: Thu, 07 Feb 2019 09:03:32 SAST