DISCOVERY & DEVELOPMENT OF BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS FOR WEEDS/INSECT PESTS...INVASIVE IN THE U.S. NATIVE TO AUSTRALIA & SOUTHEAST ASIA
Project Number: 0206-22000-002-00
Start Date: Oct 14, 2010
End Date: Oct 13, 2015
Objective 1: Discover, identify, and initiate the characterization of new biological control agents for targets, including, but not limited to, the weeds Melaleuca quinquenervia, Lygodium microphyllum, Casuarina spp., Paederia foetida, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, Triadica sebifera and Hydrilla verticillata, and the psyllid pest, Diaphorina citri. Other weeds and insect pests that are invasive in the U.S. and native to Australia and/or Southeast Asia can become priority targets as required.
Objective 2: Conduct preliminary field and laboratory research on natural enemies to assess efficacy and host-range to determine their potential for use as biological control agents. Assess results to prioritize potential agents for introduction into the United States. Expedite establishment of high-priority agents by collecting, rearing and shipping to U.S. collaborators for high priority target weeds, such as additional agents for M. quinquenervia.
Objective 3: Conduct ecological studies on targets that identify the key regulatory factors in its native habitat and use this understanding to direct selection of agents.
Objective 1: Foreign exploration will be conducted in Australia and Southeast Asia for potential biological control agents of Melaleuca quinquenervia, Lygodium microphyllum, Casuarina spp., Paederia foetida, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, Triadica sebifera and Hydrilla verticillata and additional weed targets as determined by ARS and stakeholders. Selection of search areas will be guided by the center of origin of the weed species (classical and molecular diagnostics), habitat diversity, climate matching, specific phenology and ecology of the targets, and consultation with local and foreign contacts.
Objective 2: High priority agents identified in exploration will be further evaluated in laboratory and field studies. Studies will investigate the basic biology of the organism, seasonal phenology, impact on its host, and host range. Specific aspects of an agent’s biology such as critical temperature limits will be investigated.
Objective 3: Field and laboratory studies will be conducted on target weed species which measure factors such as stand regeneration, seed production, biomass accumulation, litter fall, etc. Data will also be used to identify biological attributes that can be manipulated with biological control agents to affect control.