May 2023
Fickle Fungi Disrupts Structure

Since the introduction of the emerald ash boring beetle (EAB, Agrilus planipennis) into North America, hundreds of millions of ash trees have been killed. These invasive beetles are only known to feed on ash trees (Fraxinus species), particularly those already weakened by pests or adverse environmental conditions, such as drought. EAB can cause considerable damage to both young and mature trees. Infested trees present symptoms of die-back upon the top of the tree, splitting bark, weakened trunk and branches known to fall without warning, and sucker growth (or lateral epicormic shoots) along the tree base. However, new evidence has surfaced suggesting these little beetles may have had help weakening the structural integrity of infested trees.

The larval stage of the EAB life cycle occurs under the bark in tunnels called galleries. These galleries are created as the larvae feed on the inner phloem, cambium, and outer xylem. Although adult beetles tend to feed on leaves, it is the inner tree feeding that causes the most damage. Wounds and lesions associated the galleries and areas where adults emerge act as points of access for fungal spores. Fungi from several guilds have been found to be associated with EAB galleries, such as decay, canker, entomopathogenic, and saprotrophic fungi.

Thirteen types of decay fungi were isolated from EAB galleries. Researchers believe that these decay fungal pathogens are contributing to the degradation of ash tree structural integrity. To test this, a controlled study was conducted by analyzing wood decay fungi on ash wood samples using fungal species that were previously obtained from EAB galleries. After six months of incubation, Trametes versicolor, Phlebia radiata, and Phlebia acerina were among the top decomposers from the 13 tested fungi, resulting in as much as 70%, 72%, and 64% weight loss, respectively. These three fungi are all types of white-rot fungi, belonging to Basidiomycota. White-rot fungi degrade components of the plant cell wall, including lignin, and were shown to be the cause of aggressive degradation of the wood cell walls.

It is not clear how fungi are introduced during EAB infestations as EAB are not specialized in carrying fungal spores, like other wood boring beetles (ex: ambrosia beetle sps.). Regardless of these unknows, the research supports that these fungi are associated with EAB galleries and the weakening of tree structural integrity. The loss of biomass and structural damage increases the likelihood of falling trees and debris. This research demonstrates the importance of the treatment or removal of EAB infested trees before aggressive decay fungus can become established and hazardous.

Read the research: Simeto et al., 2023



 simeto et al 2023Control and inoculated wood blocks after 6 months of incubation. White-rot fungi growing on wood blocks are some of those isolated from EAB galleries. Credit: Simeto et al., 2023.

SEM of ash cell wall decayScanning electron micrographs of transverse sections of ash wood discs inoculated with white-rot fungi. Credit: Simeto et al., 2023.

Brown Bat, White Nose

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a devistating disease caused by an invasive cold-loving fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans that infects the skin of the ears, muzzle, and wings of hibernating bats. The fungus causes bats to wake from hibernation and often results in dehydration, starvation, and death. The first bat colony found to be suffering from WNS was in an upstate New York cave in 2006. Since then, WNS has rapidly spread across 39 U.S. states and has resulted in the death of at least 90% of the bat populations in North America.

Not far from the New York caves where the fungus was first discovered is the largest bat colony in New England. The Dorset Cave, in the Vermont Mountains, was once home to about 350 thousand hibernating bats. Before long, this cave was also exposed to P. destructans and all bat inhabitants fell victim to the outbreak. Now, there are less than 90 thousand bats estimated to hibernate within the Dorset cave. It is unclear how much of the loss was directly caused by WNS, the great loss has left the floor of the cave littered with the tiny bat skeletons. However, researchers have been observing one type of Dorset bat dweller for many years, and these little guys may provide the first glimmer of hope against the fuzzy fungal foe.

Scientists have noted the little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) are tolerating exposure to the white-nose fungus. The population survival rate seems to be slowely increasing, despite the overall high population mortality rate. These bats are very small, brown, and fuzzy, weighing only 7 grams and measuring up to 27cm. Other species that were once found in Dorset cave, such as the northern long eared bats (a.k.a. tricolor bats, Myotis septentrionalis), are almost impossible to detect now.

Researchers are not sure what has sets these bats apart, but preliminary genetic data supports that they are exhibiting an immune response which allows them to tolerate the disease, perhaps by using microclimates. There is also preliminary data to support the genetic adaptation is being passed to offspring. Observations of little brown bat populations at other areas/caves suggest a similar resistance. This research is still in its infancy and hibernating bat populations are not yet out of the woods; however, the evidence of fungal resistance after an extreme bottle-neck event is good news. Observations of the little brown bat populations are planned to continue in order to evaluate conditions that may be allowing them to survive the fungus infected caves. Researchers are also establishing different methods to better monitor population fluctuation. Who knows what this tiny mammal will teach us.

Read the article: “Tiny bats provide ‘glimmer of hope’ against a fungus that threatened entire species”. Read the research: Grimaudo et al., 2021

little brown myotis with WNSCluster of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) with white-nose syndrome. Credit: Al Hicks, NYSDEC,

white-nose syndrome (Pseudogymnoascus destructans). Al Hicks. NYSDEC. Bugwood.orgLittle brown bat with white-nose syndrome (Pseudogymnoascus destructans). Credit: Al Hicks, NYSDEC,

researcher in Dorset caveResearcher in Dorset cave. Credit: Hasan Jamali, The Associated Press.

Video Invasion

As a new segment, we are shining the spotlight on some amazing videos about invasive species and the people that choose to work with them. There are some amazing citizens and professionals around the world that poke, prod, chase, dive, and investigate everything they can about these alien invaders. We all have the same goal: learn as much as we can to restore ecosystems and preserve our native species.

How People Profit Off Invasive Species

This video follows people all over the world, from the Florida Everglades Burmese python hunters to Cambodian women who turn hand harvested and dried hyacinth into beautiful rugs, bags, and handicrafts. See how communities in Senegal are turning problematic Typha into economically efficient products, like coal, or how the eastern U.S is eating and drinking its way through the green crab problem.

Spread Of Invasive Lionfish Threatens Caribbean Coral Reefs

Dive deep with conservationists in the Caribbean who want to raise awareness of the spread of invasive lionfish. See first-hand what it looks like to spear a lionfish, what efforts are being made, and hear the experts describe what is going on amongst the reefs.

European Bark Beetle Apocalypse Explained

Invasive bark beetles and borrowing beetles are an ever-growing concern. Just take the emerald ash borer and the ash tree inhalation as an example… but what can we learn from this? How can we stop this from happening? Are beetles really the problem? This video visits areas in Europe that were devastated by ambrosia bark boring beetles to get some answers. Also, listen to timberland owners explain how they are changing things up to prevent another “beetle apocalypse”.

Cambodian women weave rug out of dried water hyacinth. insider business
Cambodian women weave rugs out of dried water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). Credit: Insider Business.

spear fishing for lionfish in the caribean.  Al Jazeera
Spear fishing for lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the Caribbean. Credit: Al Jazeera.

site of bark beetle infestation. stoneageman
Site of a bark beetle infestation in Europe. Credit: StoneAgeMan.

HELP, I’m Citrus, And I Can’t Grow Up!

The Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) and the Citrus Greening pathogen (Candidatus liberibacter asiaticus) are threatening citrus in multiple Texas counties, and we need your help to collect samples to monitor the spread to ensure that you and your neighbors are not affected. This pest and pathogen are extremely detrimental to Texas citrus, both economically and agriculturally. The presence of either can greatly affect citrus yield.

TISI is offering FREE diagnostic services! If you suspect your citrus has either the psyllid pest or the Citrus Greening pathogen, or you would like your citrus plants to be part of our screening survey, contact

We will send you all the instruction you will need. If you are located within 200 miles of our headquarters, we can collect samples, and/or provide traps and monitoring services ourselves. Not only will we share the results and management strategies (where applicable), but you will become part of a multi-county monitoring survey that is striving to improve the health of Texas citrus!

Also Available: TISI offers educational workshops that highlight information about the Asian citrus psyllid, the pathogen Citrus Greening, and what you need to look out for in your own backyard. If you are interested in this, TISI will provide trapping materials, assist with management strategies, and more. Don’t waste another second.
Help us stop the spread!

symptoms of citrus greening. Jeffrey W. Lotz. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Symptoms of citrus greening bacterium. Credit: Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,

citrus greening
Leaf mottle on grapefruit, a characteristic symptom caused by citrus greening bacterium but also seen on trees infected by Spiroplasma citri. Credit: J.M. Bove.

Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize Competition on Management of Invasive Species 2023

To win the Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prize Competition for Management of Invasive Species, participants must submit their solution that addresses the issue through one of these high-priority focal areas:

a) Invasive Grasses: A solution that provides land managers with new methods, tools, and strategies to help prevent and reduce the spread of invasive grasses and conserve our native ecosystems. Although solutions may be species-specific, we prefer they address multiple species.
b) Horticulture Pathway: A solution that reduces or prevents inadvertent movement of invasive animal species (including insects) by targeting transmission pathways associated with plant nursery trade and other commercial horticulture activities.

The total prize purse is up to $100,000 for winning technology innovation(s). Click HERE for additional information or to apply.

Submissions accepted until 06/27/23 12:00 PM EDT


Play Clean Go Awareness Week

NAISMA's 5th Annual Play Clean Go Awareness Week kicks off in less than two weeks!! The goal is to show outdoor enthusiasts how to stop spreading invasive plants and pests while enjoying the great outdoors.

June 3-10, 2023

Go to and help yourself to dozens of free materials available to help you Stop Invasive Species In Your Tracks™!. You can also participate by spreading the word through social media or by becoming a partner.

 play clean go logo  

North American Invasive Species Management Association Training Webinars

This program is designed to provide the education needed for professionals and students who are managing or learning to manage invasive species. The courses include the most current invasive species identification, control, and management techniques, and how to comply with local and federal regulations.

Participants may register and enroll at any time, and will receive a certificate of invasive species management from NAISMA upon completion of the program.

All live webinars are open to the public. Recorded webinars are available to members of NAISMA.

NAISMA 2020 Webinar Schedule:

  • June 21, 1pm- Advancing International Invasive Species Prevention Efforts and Developing a Model Legal Framework for Noxious Weed Programs. REGISTER.
  • July 19, 1pm- Using People Powered Restoration to Manage Invasive Species in an Urban National Park. REGISTER.
  • August 16, 1pm - Introduced Plant Pathogens Threatening North American Forests. REGISTER.


Zebra Mussel Watch

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has designated Hords Creek Lake in Coleman County, TX, as being ‘infested” with zebra mussels. This designation signifies that a reproductive population has established itself in the lake. A single adult mussel was recently found attached to a portion of dam infrastructure. That finding triggered follow up shoreline and substrate surveys, which discovered zebra mussels of multiple sizes and from multiple life stages, indicating the presence of an active reproductive population.

Hords Creek Lake brings the count of infested Texas lake to over 30, with more designated as “positive” for zebra mussels (these lakes are under observation and not yet considered fully “infested”). Authorities would like to remind you to Clean, Drain, Dry in order reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species while you enjoy recreational activities. Full press release here.


mussel signal KNKCredit: KNKleiner, TRIES.

Invasive Spotlight:

Purple Loosestrife
(Lythrum salicaria)

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), also called purple lythrum, is an invasive perennial plant found growing in wet soil habitats. These plants grow 3-10 feet tall, at an average of 5 feet. The angular hairy stems are covered with unstalked leaves and crowded ‘spikes’ of pinkish-lavender flowers toward the top. The leaves are lance-shaped and grow at a 90-degree angle. Lavender flowers are arranged in petals of 4-6, growing ½” long and ¾”wide, attached to purplish calyx-like tubes with several pointed teeth. These flowers grow in clusters or pairs.

These plants can root in a couple feet of water or in dry soil along the water’s edge. The flowers grow during a longer than usual season (June-September), which allows them to produce a large quantity of seeds. Each plant can grow as many as thirty flowers capable of producing up to three million seeds a year. Purple loosestrife likes to grow in dense patches that easily outcompete or replace native grasses, sedges, and flowering native plants. The abundant flowers produced by these patches provide a plentiful source of nectar preferred by pollinators. Purple loosestrife patches can also reduce waterfowl habitat.

This wetland invader can also reproduce vegetatively through underground stems. Many stems can emerge from a single rootstock and grow up to one foot per year. Cultivated purple loosestrife that is “guaranteed sterile” are capable of crossing freely with purple loosestrife and other native Lythrum species. Therefore, even cultivated purple loosestrife should be avoided outside of the native habitat.

Purple loosestrife has been reported in 42 out of 50 US states, with Texas included in this group. It can thrive in freshwater and brackish water. To learn more about managements options and additional information, see the TexasInvasive species info page. If you believe you have identified a suspected purple loosestrife, please take a picture and email it to

flower. Linda Wilson. University of Idaho. 
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) flowers. Credit: Linda Wilson, University of Idaho,
purple loosestrife stem. Rob Routledge. Sault College.
Purple loosestrife stem. Credit: Rob Routledge, Sault College,

purple loosestrife EMAPPS
EDDMap of purple loosestrife reported in North America. Credit: EDDMapS. 2023. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.

Get Involved Today!!

The Texas Invasive Species Institute (TISI) and The Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies (TRIES) have many surveys and projects underway. These facilities strive to provide yearly invasive species presence and absence data to the authorities. Pre-screening is one of the first lines of defense in the war against invasives. However, sometimes it is hard to do it alone.

With the aid of the public and citizen scientists, we could cover a much wider area, and gather a more substantial amount of data. When it comes to protecting our environment, there is an opportunity for everyone! Together we can make a difference, one research project at a time.

See how you can get involved by reading the projects listed below or see all the available projects on the Texas Invasives website HERE.

Aquarium Watch: Looking for Prohibited Invasive Aquatic Species

Please help and natural habitats by looking for 14 prohibited or invasive aquatic species that might be for sale in your local aquarium store(s). With just one photo you can assist us in finding and documenting which stores are selling prohibited or invasive species. will use this information to contact the appropriate Texas institutions to ensure the appropriate steps are taken for each case.

If you would like more information please email, and mention you want to assist with our Aquarium Watch.

Air Potato Survey

Help Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies conduct an air potato survey by actively reporting any infestations seen in your area. The air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) is a fast growing, high climbing vine. Potato-like tubers are the primary means of reproduction for this vine. They can be as small as a marble or as large as a softball. Native yams are often confused for air potatoes. To avoid this confusion, please refer to the key below:

- Plants rhizomatous; bulbils never produced in leaf axils; petiole base never clasping the stem; Native D. villosa
- Plants tuberous; bulbils produced in leaf axils; petiole base sometimes clasping the stem; Invasive D. bulbifera

For additional information, please refer to the TexasInvasives information page.

If you believe you have identified an air potato vine, please email and include the following information: an image, an approximate number of vines present, the location (including whether it is on public or private land), and if bulbils are present (the potato-like tubers that emerge from the stem).

Participation opportunities
Participation Opportunities. Credit: KNKleiner, TRIES.

Armorded catfish. Photographer United States Geological Survey
Armored catfish (Hypostomus plecostomus). Credit: United States Geological Survey.

air-potato (Dioscorea bulbifera)2 bulbil. credit Karen Brown
Air-potato (Dioscorea bulbifera), bulbil emerging from leaf axil. Credit: Karen Brown.

More News

Apocalypse Sow: Can Anything Stop the Feral Hog Invasion?
Feral pigs are a now a global issue that will not go away overnight, and Texas has the highest population numbers. This article talks about some of the problems, partnerships, and some attempted methods that have been tried. It may not be the only opinion, but to educate oneself on the important topics, information gathering is key.

See 6 Invasive Fish You’ll Find in Texas Lakes and Rivers
Read about the origan, characteristics, and other interesting information about six different invasive fish species found throughout Texas water bodies. Examples like the Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus) and the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) that you might have in your local fishing hole.

Registration Opens for Annual Florida Python Challenge
Registration is now open for the 2023 Florida Python Challenge. This ten-day competition is open to professionals and novice snake hunters, giving participants a chance to win up to $10,000.

Angler’s 118-Pound Catch Breaks Oklahoma Record - And Officials Are Thanking Him
An angler catches a world record breaking bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) at Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Grand Lake, Oklahoma. Authorities have asked local anglers to help remove these invasive fish from the local water ways.

Sniff & Destroy: Researchers Recruiting Dogs to Combat Costly Invasive Species
Researchers at Texas Tech and Virginia Tech are looking for citizen scientists and their canine companions that are interested in training to sniff out the Chinese Spotted Lanternfly.

INVASIVESNET Signs with Pensoft to Move Its Official Journal: Aquatic Invasions to ARPHA Platform
Aquatic Invasions is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that prints articles about biological invasions in inland and coastal water ecosystems. This journal has now been made accessible to the public on a new online website.

Newly Sequenced Hornet Genomes Could Help Explain Invasion Success
The genomes of two hornet species, the European hornet (Vespa crabro) and the Asian hornet (or yellow-legged hornet, V. velutina) have been sequenced. Researchers can now compare the invasive hornet genomes to those of natives to reveal clues to their success.

Seven Wild Ways Scientists Are Trying to Stop Invasive Carp
Read about the different methods researchers and local officials are turning to reduce the booming carp population. These fish have been causing problems in the Great Lakes and surrounding waterways for decades.

Invasive Fish Species Have Larger Trophic Niches Than Native Fish, According to Study Using Irms
A study in Turkey observed how non-native cyprinid fishes, like Carassius gibelio and Cyprinus carpio, have larger trophic niches than native fishes, such as Capoeta antalyensis and Squalius fellowesii.

Opinion: Australia Is in A Unique Position To Eliminate The Bee-Killing Varroa Mite. Here's What Happens If We Don't
Invasive varroa mites (Varroa destructor) are notorious honeybee parasites and Australia is the last continent to be invaded by this mite. Because of this, Australia may be able to slow or stop the spread of the mites.

Sentinel Pest Network and Invaders of Texas Workshops

Invaders of Texas workshops train volunteers to detect and report invasive species as citizen scientists. Workshops, which are free, are designed to introduce participants to invasive species and the problems they cause, cover aspects of invasive species management, teach identification of local invasive plants, and train participants to report invasive plants using the TX Invaders mobile application. The workshop is 7 hours long (usually on a Saturday, but scheduling is arranged with each individual host group). The workshop satisfies Master Naturalist training requirements.

Sentinel Pest Network workshops serve to increase the awareness and early detection of a set of particularly important invasive species to help prevent their spread into Texas or their further spread within Texas. Participants learn to identify species such as the Emerald Ash Borer, Cactus Moth, Asian Longhorned Beetle, and other pests of regulatory significance, and to report them. The workshop is 3.5 hours long. The workshop satisfies Master Naturalist training requirements.

Upcoming Workshops:

June 6th- Invasive Pests & Plant Pathogens in your area Harris County Master Gardeners
1414 Wirt Rd, Houston, TX 77055
Contact: Brandi Keller at

June 27th- Stop the spread of invasive species!
Keep Texas Beautiful state conference (in-person)
Galleria Westin in Houston, TX.
Registration link

CITRUS WORKSHOPS: Stay tuned for upcoming 2023 virtual weekend presentations about Citrus diseases and FREE testing we offer at Texas Invasive Species Institute.