Plant Galls in Southern Africa
Plant Galls in Southern Africa - Southern Africa : Galls on plants are abnormal growths caused by specific organisms. This project collects plant galls and the organisms that incite them from southern Africa. Unfortunately both the gall makers and galls of this region are particularly poorly known, which
Galls on plants are abnormal growths caused by specific organisms. This project collects plant galls and the organisms that incite them from southern Africa. Unfortunately both the gall makers and galls of this region are particularly poorly known, which is the reason for most of these observations being unidentified (or unidentifiable). One must start somewhere.
Plant galls have many different morphologies. Different galls occur on specific plant parts. Differently shaped galls, on particular plant parts, are very specifically indicative of the organism that incited that specific gall. Inasmuch, the gall-forming organisms are exceptionally specific to their host plant species and the plant part affected.
The kinds of organisms that may incite galls are diverse. There are gall makers among several insect families; a group of mite families; various kinds of fungi; different specialised nematodes (eelworms); certain bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms; and even plants growing on or in other plants.
The plant galls of the Afrotropical Region are virtually unstudied. The same can be said of the organisms causing the galls, but in some cases the organisms are known and described without the link to the particular host plant and gall type being known. Southern Africa has an exceptionally rich diversity of gall types, but mostly overlooked and very seldom studied.
In the global north, with modest gall diversity, the knowledge of galls and their associated organisms is tremendous. There are field guides to gall morphologies on specific plants, which are all that is necessary to identify the causative organisms. We have a long way to go, but this project gives a first glimpse.
Galling organisms are excellent biological control agents of alien invasive plants, either because their growth inhibits or destroys reproductive structures of the pest plant, and/or because they are nutrient sinks into which the pest plant pumps so much resources that both reproduction and general vegetative growth are significantly impaired.
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