A few notes about Agricultural Parasitology in Mexico

O. García Martínez1

revbio. 2020 Jun 1; 5(spe1): e739
doi: 10.15741/revbio.05.02.13

Agricultural parasitology classifies in scientific disciplines like Entomology, Acarology, Phytopathology, (Mycology, Bacteriology, Nematology, Virology) and the Science of Weeds, mainly, also considering rodents, birds, and other organisms that affect agricultural production; it makes emphasis in harmful species (pests), and beneficial ones that could be considered for management programs integrated by pests; the objective is to achieve the least harm of insect pests, microorganisms, etcetera, to obtain the maximum yields possible per production unit, economic profitability, sanity of food derived from the countryside, quality of products for human consumption, industrial usage, etc., within the philosophy of respecting nature. Other denominations used for this field are phytosanity or Vegetable health. At practice, it leads the attention to problems about forest parasitology, veterinary-related issues, urban sanitation, and about stored grains and products, urban health and forensic entomology.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) that emerged in 1945 as one of the four basic organizations for the UN (United Nations), points out that insect pests, phytopathogenic microorganisms, and invasive weed, can decrease worldwide food production in fields up to a 30 %, and more than 40 % in storage, depending on the circumstances. In this order of ideas, 3.5 billion people are affected by diseases transmitted by mosquitos (Fernández et al., 2011). May the aforementioned be enough to see the importance of this scientific and professional area.

From a general point of view, without being too exhaustive, some background data of the parasitology disciplines in Mexico. Pre-Columbian cultures knew insects that had negative effects on plants consumed by them or had their health affected by them, and insects that were useful to them, like the cochineal, mezcal worm, western honey bee, and lepidoptera that produce silk (Llorente, 1990). Michan & Llorente (2002), point out that Dr. Francisco Hernández (1570-1577), participated in the study of insects of New Spain, and Martin de Sesse and Lacasta (1751-1808) and painter Atanasio Echeverria, contributed with 19 pictures with 30 species of lepidoptera. They also say that, in 1879 the “Sociedad Agricola Mexicana” and the “Instituto Médico Nacional”, promoted the study of Entomology and that D.G. Bilimeck described cavernicolous insects and arachnids. Eugenio Duges (183-1895), described insect species and carried out studies about taxonomy and life cycles of coleoptera (beetles); he left ten tomes about Mexican studies about coleoptera unpublished, which are in UNAM now. Between 1879 and 1915, the English work “Biologia Centrali Americana” was published, edited in more than 50 volumes, where 33,502 insect species are documented. Between 1865 and 1941 “La Gaceta Médica de Mexico” published 11 articles about insects (Michán & Llorente, 2002).

At the end of the 19th century and at early 20th century, varies careers in “Escuela Nacional de Agricultura Chapingo” were established, among them, “Ingeniero Agrónomo”, which offered the courses as agricultural zoology and parasites of domestic vertebrates. In botanical agriculture, the subject “Parásitos Vegetales de las Plantas que se Cultivan en el Pais” was taught, “Microbios Patógenos y Zimogenos” and “Teratologia Vegetal”; In 1908, the career of “Ingeniero en Hidraulica” was planning to incorporate the subject of vegetal parasitology. In 1919 the career of “Agronomo” offered “Nosología de los Vegetales” and “Entomología Agrícola”.

Engineer Jose Jorge Gutierrez Samperio, in his conference “Setenta Años de Sanidad Vegetal” comments that Vegetal Sanity had its origin in Mexico by the end of the 1890s, when Mr. Alfonso L. Herrera defined insect pests from fruit trees and exchanged experiences with member of the “Academia de los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica”. After this, at the beginning of 1900, the “Comision Nacional de Parasitología Agricola” was formed for biologically controlling locusts, using an entomopathogenic fungus, in the country, there have been actions realized for biological control since the 40’s when a Aphelinus mali was introduced to control the woolly apple aphid Eriosoma lanigerum and Eretmocerus serius, to combat the citrus blackfly Aleurocanthus woglumi (Jiménez, 1999).

The “Escuela Superior de Agricultura Hermanos Escobar”, founded in 1906 in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, included in his study programs courses of parasitology-related disciplines, until 1996, the year in which, unfortunately, the school was closed down.

The “Escuela Regional de Agricultura Antonio Narro”, now “Universidad Autonoma Antonio Narro (UAAAN)”, started activities in 1923 in Buenavista, Coahuila, and the curriculum programmed in 195 the subjects of zoology and entomology, plant parasitology” and microbiology. In 1951 as the “Escuela Superior de Agricultura Antonio Narro”, opened the “Departamento de Entomologia” and in 1952 the “Departamento de Fitopatología”. Nematology courses were offered since 1956, Bad Weed courses since 1972 and Acarology since 1981 (García, 1985). In 1978, the current “Departamento de Parasitología Agrícola” emerges, which offers parasitology courses at the leveles of bachelor, masters, and PhD (García, 2018).

In 1929, the “Instituto de Biologia de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)” emerges, and the entomology laboratory (Johansen, 1985) was installed. Novelo (1985) says that in this institution, entomology was beginning to be taught in 1950. The acarology laboratory of UNAM was founded in 1977 (Hoffman, 1985), and in 1983, for the first time, in this university, the course “Introducción a la Acarologia” was offered (Cramer, 1985).

The “Escuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas (ENCB)” of the “Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN)”, installed the first “Laboratorio de Enseñanza e Investigación en Entomologia” in 1938, and in 1938 and 1939, people who joined ENCB could decide on choosing the career of entomology (Aguirre, 1985). Also, it was the first institution in Mexico where the Acarology course was being taught in 1965, and where Dr. Anita Hoffman founded the first “Laboratorio de Acarología” in Mexico (Bassols, 1985). The “Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey”, opened the “Escuela de Agricultura y Ganadería” in 1948, offering courses of parasitology-related disciplines. In 1964, there were 14 institutions in Mexico that performed entomological research (77 researchers), only in six institutions existed 17 researchers with a doctorate, three of whom were from the ITESM (Reyes, 1998). The first convention of entomology and phytopathology was held in 1956 at the “Escuela Nacional de Agricultura, Chapingo”, Mexico. Hoffman (1985), says that the “Sociedad Mexicana de Entomologia” opened and special section for Acarology at their conventions. The creation of the “Colegio de Ingenieros Agronomos”, the “Sociedades Mexicanas de Entomologia y Fitopatologia” and the “Asociacion de Ingeniero Agronomos Parasitologos” (1967), was attributed to Mr. Ricardo Coronado Padilla.

In 1960, the “Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agricolas (INIA)” began working. In 1985, it became the “Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agricolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP)”. Since its origin, the institute has performed an important research in parasitology, at a national level, with the participation of numerous outstanding researchers.

The “Primer Congreso Nacional de la Sociedad Mexicana de la Ciencias de la Maleza” was held in Torreon, Coahuila in 1980, and the “Primer Congreso de la Sociedad Mexicana de Control Biológico” was also held in Torreon, but in 1989.

The “Colegio Superior de Agricultura Tropical” founden in 1968, and closed down in 1985, administrated the specialties of agricultural parasitology, phytotechnics and zootechnics. The “Departamento de Entomologia” offered phytotechnics and parasitology courses and had the lines of research “Control Biologico”, “Control Integrado”, “Taxonomia” and “Acarologia activa” (Murillo, 1985). The “Instituto de Ecologia” was created in 1974 (Reyes, 1985) and since then it offers parasitology courses at the levels of master´s and doctorate’s degree. Currently, practically all of the universities in the country offer careers for the field, or that form biologists and bacteriologists, among others, include parasitology courses at different academic levels on their study programs.

In Mexico, agricultural parasitology, as such, emerges in 1935, at the “Escuela Nacional de Agricultura, Chapingo”, when by an initiative by Professor Ignacio Hernandez Olmedo, the parasitology specialty was founded. The “Facultad de Agrobiologia” of the “Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo”, opens this specialty in 1958. The “Colegio de Posgraduados” initiates activities in 1959, as part of the “Escuela Nacional de Agricultura (now Universidad Autonoma de Chapingo)” and since then has the masters in “Fitosanidad activa”; in 1990 the PhD is opened. In 1965, the “Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey”, offered the master’s and PhD’s degree in agricultural parasitology, unfortunately, this postgraduate course disappeared. The “Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa”, at the “Facultad de Agronomia de Culiacan”, initiates in 1968, the specialty of parasitology, that in 2005 turns into “Ingeniero Agronomo en Proteccion Vegetal”, and in now the “Facultad de Agricultura de Juan Jose Rios”, that since 1976 formed agricultural engineers specialists in agricultural parasitology, since 2005, as an extension of Culiacan, it is homologated, forming agricultural engineers in vegetal protectio,. The “Universidad Autonoma Agraria Antonio Narro-Buenavista, Saltillo”, creates the “Departamento de Parasitologia” in 1978, where the bachelor’s degree is offered since that year, the master’s degree initiates in 1985 and the PhD degree in 2002; in 1983, the UAAAN opens the bachelor’s degree in parasitology at its “Unidad Laguna”. Currently, all of these institutions, except for the ITESM, are forming parasitologists at different academic levels. It can be appreciated that many superior education institutions, research centers and professionals, for a long time, have made possible the development of parasitology disciplines and agricultural parasitology as such.

Without being exhaustive, some aspects to consider for future reference in the formation of parasitologists are discussed. General: respecting quality policies of superior education in the country and international commercial laws, since in both cases, it is expected that its operativeness is studied deeply. Teaching: modernizing and updating planes and study programs according to the evolution of parasitology disciplines, agricultural problems, requirements for food quality, social needs, industrial needs, etc.; make teaching-learning process effective using communication and modern computer technologies, of cutting-edge, educational robotics; qualifying people in the use of specialized parasitological software, making emphasis in field and lab practicing; having an effect in mastering phytosanitary diagnostics in the field and lab, using modern instruments, sophisticated, precise, emphasizing the use of molecular techniques, high-level microscopy, micropgotography, drones, among others. Differentiating clearly the formation of parasitologists with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate’s degree. Research: generate, and reevaluate economic thresholds; looking for efficient natural enemies; prioritizing ecology projects, behavior, taxonomy, etc. whose information aids the development and establishing of effective programs of parasitological problems; giving priority to the study of concrete economic problems. Development: establishing functional programs of extension and continuous education. In short, forming parasitologists capable of solving problems.

The scientific associations that are involved in agricultural parasitology in Mexico, are the Sociedad Mexicana de Entomologia, the Sociedad Mexicana de Fitopatologia, the Sociedad Mexicana de Control Biologico, the Sociedad Mexicana de la Ciencia de la Maleza, and Ingenieros Agronomos Parasitologos A.C. Michán & Llorente, (2002), refer 65 Mexican scientific journals where articles about entomology have been published. Mexican journals where articles about parasitology are published are, among others, Folia Entomologica Mexicana, Entomologia Mexicana (SME), Revista Mexicana de Fitopatologia (SMF), Vedalia, Entomofago, Resumenes de Congresos, Boletin Informativo (SMCB), Agrociencia (Colpos), Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Agricolas (INIFAP), Dugesiana (U de G), Agraria (UAAAN), Acta Zoologia Mexicana-nueva serie (IE), Memorias de Congresos Nacionales de SOMECIMA, Revista Mexicana de la Ciencia de la Maleza, Series Tecnicas de ASOMECINA, Serie Sanidad Vegetal (SARH), Fitofilo (SARH), Revista Bio Ciencias (UAN).

Revista Bio Ciencias publishes in this special number dedicated to agricultural parasitology, 11 scientific paper, every one of them of excellent quality, that focused on important problems, where valuable information is given, which reflects the interest and effort of researchers, that makes the agricultural parasitology in Mexico a living scientific field, very active, and without a doubt, highly socially relevant.

<sig>Oswaldo García Martínez</sig>

Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro</sig-block>


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Revista Bio Ciencias, Año 13, vol. 9,  Enero 2022. Sistema de Publicación Continua editada por la Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit. Ciudad de la Cultura “Amado Nervo”,  Col. Centro,  C.P.: 63000, Tepic, Nayarit, México. Teléfono: (01) 311 211 8800, ext. 8922. E-mail: revistabiociencias@gmail.com, revistabiociencias@yahoo.com.mx, http://revistabiociencias.uan.mx. Editor responsable: Dra. Karina J. G. Díaz Resendiz. No. de Reserva de derechos al uso exclusivo 04-2010-101509412600-203, ISSN 2007-3380, ambos otorgados por el Instituto Nacional de Derechos de Autor. Responsable de la última actualización de este número Dra. Karina J. G. Díaz Resendiz Secretaria de Investigación y Posgrado, edificio Centro Multidisciplinario de Investigación Científica (CEMIC) 03 de la Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit. La opinión expresada en los artículos firmados es responsabilidad del autor. Se autoriza la reproducción total o parcial de los contenidos e imágenes, siempre y cuando se cite la fuente y no sea con fines de lucro.

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Fecha de última actualización 9 de Junio de 2022


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Dra. Karina J. G. Díaz Resendiz