Biocontrol of glossy buckthorn and reed canarygrass with rust fungus

photograph of a glossy buckthorn branch with berries

Glossy buckthorn

Image credit: "Glossy buckthorn" by Eli Sagor is licensed under CC BY-NC-2.0


In the spring of 2017, a field researcher discovered an invasive glossy buckthorn shrub (Frangula alnus) infected with a type of rust, a type of fungus that creates raised, red-ish, orange-ish, or brown-ish spots on leaves. Rusts represent an umbrella of fungal diseases, some  that affect cereal crops like oats and wild grasses. The variety of rust this researcher stumbled upon is new to the United States, and was later confirmed to have originated in another priority invasive plant: reed canarygrass.

MITPPC researchers are evaluating whether this new rust can offer safe, practical, and effective biocontrol for glossy buckthorn and reed canarygrass in Minnesota. 

Research questions

  • Where is the novel rust occurring in the state? 
  • What host species does the rust affect? 
  • Does the rust offer effective biocontrol for reed canarygrass and glossy buckthorn?

Practical implications

Our researchers will develop and distribute a fact sheet about this new rust to natural resource professionals, cereal crop growers, and citizen scientists around Minnesota. This work could potentially result in a new biocontrol option for two of the highest-priority invasive species in our state.



  • APS Plant Health Conference 2022
  • Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference 2022

Research team

Pablo D. Olivera Firpo | principal investigator

Yue Jin | co-principal investigator

Susan Galatowitsch | cooperator

Neil Anderson | cooperator 

Alan Smith | cooperator 

Nicholas Greatens | MS candidate


Collaborating organizations

USDA-Agricultural Research Service

USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Lab