Non-native seeds were discovered on shipping containers

Along with the backpack vacuum, the research team went looking for non-plant plant seeds on air-intake grills of refrigerated shipping containers – and thousands of them were found. Credit: Rima Lucardi, USFS

Seeds floating in the air can cause hiccups in unusual locations – such as the air-intake grills of refrigerated shipping containers. A team of researchers from the USDA Forest Service, Arkansas State University, and other organizations conducted a recent study that involved vacuuming seeds from air-intake grills at the Port of Savannah, Georgia, in two seasons.

The feasibility of such seeds is important to federal regulatory and enforcement agencies, and the project requires a shared leadership approach. Imported refrigerated shipping containers are inspected by the US Customs and Border Protection, Agriculture Program (Department of Homeland Security). The research team worked closely with this agency as well as the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Georgia Ports Authority.

His findings were recently published in the journal Scientific report. 30 plant taxa seeds were collected from air-intake grills, including a grass wild sugarcane seed (Sacherum spontaneum) in the USA Federal Noxious Weed List.

Federal Noxious Weeds pose an immediate significant threat to the agricultural, nursery and forestry industries. Although a beloved grass and useful in its native range, wild sugarcane has the potential to contain cogongrass, stiltgrass, and other non-species species that are extremely widespread in the Americas.

“During the two shipping seasons, we estimate that more than 40,000 seeds of this species enter the Garden City Terminal at the port of Savannah,” says Rima Lucardi, forest service researcher and project lead author. “This amount of incoming seeds is more than sufficient for the introduction and installation of this non-invasive invader, even though the escape rate from shipping containers is limited.”

Lucardi and his colleagues analyzed and modeled viable seeds from four-four taxis to predict the chance that seeds would survive and establish in the Americas. All are prolific seed producers, wind-polluted and wind-dispersed, and able to survive in a wide range of environmental conditions and climates.

Researchers proposed several possible strategies to reduce the risk for native ecosystems and agricultural commodities. For example, in exchange for labor-intensive vacuuming of air-intake grills, a liquid pre-transmitted herbicide may be applied to containers in the port. Prevention and best management practices, from farm to store, to reduce the potential for non-seeds. Seeds to be installed in the US inspection for external inspection prevent ride on shipping containers at their shipping point or stop en route , Which will reduce the risk of attack.

It is more cost-effective to prevent long-term nonwage plant invasions than to try to manage them once they are long-lasting and widely established. “Investments in the prevention and early discovery of non-plant species with known negative effects lead to an almost 100-fold increase in economic return, compared to which extensive non-economic management cannot be excluded,” says Lucardi. Says Lucardi.

The team previously showed in one more, That the Port Nonways plant is a center of diversity and prosperity.

Reference: Reema D. Lusardi, Emily S. Bellis, Chelsea E. Cunard, Jaron K. Gravesande, Steven C. Hughes, Lauren E. By “seeds associated with refrigerated shipping containers represent a substantial risk of introduction and establishment of non-plant species.” Whitehurst, Samantha J. Worthy, Kevin S. Burgess and Travis d. Marsico, 14 September 2020, Scientific report.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-020-71954-3