"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Research shows that soil laden with dangerous pests and diseases carries over to sea freight.

Often introduced unintentionally through human activities, invasive alien species can outcompete and dominate native wildlife, driving species to the brink of extinction and disrupting ecosystem balance. Can be disruptive. If we would like to cut back their destructive effects, understanding why they establish in completely latest places and the way they got there in the primary place is crucial. Unfortunately, there isn't enough research on this, and the answers may not at all times be straightforward.

A research team from AgResearch and Better Border Biosecurity (B3) investigated the biohazard posed by soil on external surfaces of sea freight reminiscent of shipping containers or machinery used at seaports in New Zealand. With their work, the researchers hope to facilitate the assessment of relative biosecurity risks amongst different introduction routes and contribute to the event of simpler countermeasures.

The team found soil on most kinds of marine equipment, no matter its origin, all soil has the potential to vector microbes, including plant pathogens. The amount of soil recovered from a sea container was 5.3 kg, while the general average weight recovered from sea freight was 417 g, with many of the soil found at the underside of sea freight.

“Although the presence of soil is perhaps not surprising, the presence of soil-associated live bacteria, fungi, insects, spores and insects was of greater concern. Various biosecurity organisms were recovered from the samples, including plant parasitic worms, include seeds, insects and spiders that were not previously recorded as being present in New Zealand,” says Mark McNeil of AgResearch, who led the research.

“Not only does the spread of alien species through these networks represent significant ecological, economic and social costs to natural and agricultural environments if invasive alien species become established, but also the loss of biodiversity caused by the establishment of invasive alien species. “For islands, the implications may be significant, because the establishment of invasive alien species can result in species extinction in addition to biodiversity loss,” the researchers said. writes in his paper, which was published within the Open Access Journal.

Compared to previous studies of contaminated footwear carried in international airline passenger luggage, the abundance and variety of soil on ocean freight was lower than soil transported in a safer environment (eg, shoes in luggage). . This showed that biosecurity risks may vary along the pathway. However, prioritizing one soil pathway over one other, and allocating resources otherwise, in line with the risks they present is difficult, because relative risk is dynamic, determined by aspects reminiscent of latest pests or diseases that emerge. Enter the respective path.

Nevertheless, the researchers suggest that contaminated ocean freight is a vital introduction route for exotic species. Pre-departure cleansing of containers, inspection on the border and further cleansing where mandatory can prevent establishment of such species.