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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

1 - This Week at EBCL
2 - 4 October 2010
3 - 27 September 2010
4 - 20 September 2010
5 - 14 September 2010
6 - 7 September 2010
7 - August 2010
8 - July 2010
9 - June 2010
10 - May 2010
May 2010

2 May - 10 May - 17 May - 24 May - 31 May

2 May 2010

I wanted to let you know that I arrived safely in Montpellier and completed my first week here. You can contact me directly in the office at 33 (country code) 4.99.62.30.20. I have my own EBCL email address at dstrickman@ars-ebcl.org , but I will be continuing to monitor my usual ARS email address closely. You can also call either Sarah Hague or Xavier Leprieur to leave me a message at 33.4.99.62.30.00. Cell phone calls are very expensive, but I have both my old number (240-463-0218) and a new French one (33.6.19.10.57.49). Please remember that we are 6 hours later than on the east coast.

On a personal note, it has been very easy to get along here. I have been taking the tram and bus to the lab from downtown, there are convenient little groceries around, and people either speak English or are very encouraging about my horrible French. As you might expect, the food is amazing.

Just like other ARS labs, the field season is beginning to warm up. René Sforza is off to Italy and Turkey for two weeks to look for natural enemies of medusahead rye and other targets. He'll be working with Massimo Cristofaro, our collaborator at BBCA in Rome. Franck Hérard is planning to return to Italy for his work on Asian and citrus longhorned beetles, as well as just having completed the planting of a small experimental forest on the back forty of the lab. Arnaud Blanchet is due to go to Guatemala at mid month to show APHIS how to rear olive fruit flies on artificial media. Alan Kirk continues his work as a contractor on Arundo for John Goolsby. And Marie-Claude Bon continues to evaluate the genetics of both insect and weed targets, as well as biological control agents. She is also working on a central research project using a couple of model species to try to make generalizations about genetics and suitability of biological control agents.

In Greece, Javid Kashefi has started an ambitious schedule of collections in the Balkans, directed at a number of weed targets, the European grape vine moth (Lobesia botrana), and mosquitoes. Things are changing rapidly for our operation in Greece, with formal associations with the Benaki Phytopathological Institute in Athens, the American Farm School, and, hopefully, Aristotle University (Thessaloniki) and Plovdiv Agricultural University (Bulgaria). Later this summer we will get our first full-time post-doc in Thessaloniki, through Department of Defense funding and the University of Florida.

I also wanted to mention a significant achievement by Dominique Coutinot, our quarantine officer. A couple weeks ago he arranged a two day workshop on quarantine and shipping practices for French regulators and action people. It led to good interchange, created continuity, made it more likely that we will be able to keep shipping material smoothly, and further established EBCL as a key player in this field in France.

We completed submission of the two five-year plans (weeds and insects), much thanks to help from the EBCL staff and Livy Williams. Livy did a great job of keeping the format straight, coordinating the process, and generally putting EBCL's best foot forward. He should be here permanently in the next couple of months following what turned into a one-year delay due to unavoidable problems with arrangements.

Walker Jones is now in Stoneville, MS, as Research Leader of the Biological Control of Pest Research Unit. You can reach him at walker.jones@ars.usda.gov or 662-686-5229. Good luck, Walker!

 

Daniel A. Strickman, Ph.D.
Interim Director, European Biological Control Laboratory (26 Apr - 28 Sep 2010), Montpellier, France
tel: +33-4-99-62-3020.
Acting Director, Overseas Biological Control Laboratories.
National Program Leader.

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10 May 2010

Last week was fairly quiet at EBCL (except for a test of the alarm system by Dan Barcea) with both René Sforza and Franck Hérard gone in the field. René is working with Massimo Cristofaro of the Biotechnology and Biological Control Agency (BBCA), a private company in Rome and one of our close collaborators. Volcanoes permitting, René should be back in a week, hopefully with material from Sardinia and Turkey.  Arnaud Blanchet got the permit from the Guatemalan government thanks to Pedro Rendón from the APHIS fruit fly production facility there, so Arnaud is on track for departure this Sunday on a mission to set up Psytallia (natural enemy of olive fruit fly) rearing in Guatemala.

We have been discussing several projects in more detail than just ideas, but not yet finalized. One is to hold our annual review in September, not only as an occasion to document accomplishments and activities, but also as a chance to highlight our program to other members of the agricultural community here. Another is to cooperate with the Greek Forestry Institute to test existing parasitoids in Greece against Emerald Ashborer in our quarantine facility, a project similar in concept to the one Franck does with Italy on the Citrus and Asian Longhorned Beetles. Finally, we are going to continue our colonies of Olive Fruit Fly parasitoids for the time being in anticipation of a project for their evaluation and release in Albania.

I had the opportunity to visit with a series of people at the US Embassy in Paris who are very important to us. The list of topics goes from security to financial management. I had the clear impression that Embassy support to EBCL is a priority and their subsequent responsiveness to questions has been very helpful. The Foreign Agricultural Service office is most relevant to us technically, so we look forward to a lot more communication with them.

This week (10-12 May) there is a major conference at the Corum in Montpellier, entitled “Emerging Vector-borne Diseases in a changing European eNvironment,” carefully crafted to use the acronym EDEN. EBCL has a poster at the conference co-authored with the Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMB). We expect three important visitors during the conference: Dr. Graham White, Technical Consultant to USDA ARS and to the AFPMB; Lieutenant Colonel (USAF) Doug Burkett, Research Liaison Officer of the AFPMB and manager of the Deployed Warfighter Protection Program; and Dr. David Swayne, Center Director of the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory and world authority on influenza.

I hope all of you have a great week.

 

Daniel A. Strickman, Ph.D.

Interim Director, European Biological Control Laboratory (26 Apr - 28 Sep 2010), Montpellier, France
tel: +33-4-99-62-3020.

Acting Director, Overseas Biological Control Laboratories.

National Program Leader.

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17 May 2010

This was a short week at EBCL thanks to a national holiday in France, Ascencion Day. Many people “make the bridge” and take leave on Friday as well. As a result, I had the bus to myself for a while on Friday, but once in town, the tramway was crammed with people going to a big event. Earlier in the week we had the EDEN annual conference in town. It is a gathering of entomologists, veterinarians, and epidemiologists who were funded during a five-year European project to examine the continent for vector-borne pathogens. The effort was very organized, often with standardized methods and close coordination between collaborating laboratories in many countries. Similar work was done in a less organized fashion in the US during the 1960s, and in that sense Europe is catching up. On the other hand, using modern methods, especially in genetics, and careful coordination seems to have resulted in a marvelous product. The meeting was the occasion for a visit from Lieutenant Colonel (USAF) Doug Burkett, Research Liaison Officer of the Armed Forces Pest Management Board; Dr. Graham White, Technical Consultant to ARS and the Deployed Warfighter Protection Program; and Dr. David Swayne, Director of the USDA ARS Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory. Drs. René Sforza and Marie-Claude Bon had a chance to describe their research, which of course generated a lot of interest. Dr. Swayne will be serving a one-year detail in Paris at OIE, so we hope to see him again. On Friday, Tony Caesar from the USDA ARS lab in Sidney, Montana, completed a visit to work with Marie-Claude Bon on a very interesting triad between a weevil, a fungus, and an invasive weed (Lepidium).

On invitation of the head the Office of Food, Sub-Directorate of Quality and Plant Protection (French Ministry of Agriculture), Dominique Coutinot participated in a meeting on May 11 at Angers , Département Maine-et-Loire . The subject of the meeting being the risks related to the dissemina tion of the insect pest Tuta absoluta (the tomato leaf miner, a gelechiid moth originally from South America). After the presentation of the biology of the insect, regulatory aspects, and the methods of monitoring, the methods of protection and ongoing research were presented, including the use of biological control agents.

René Sforza returned from his trip with Massimo Cristofaro to Sardinia and Turkey. The work succeeded in getting genetic material of both French broom (invasive in California and a challenge to identify correctly in its native range) and medusahead rye. They also found potential insect natural enemies of both plants and more examples of the fungus that attacks medusahead (Ustilago phrygica, thought to not be specific enough to be useful). If you would like to see a detailed trip report with pictures and maps, just ask René or me, or check out our website ( http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/site_main.htm?modecode=02-12-00-00).

Arnaud Blanchet and his parasitoids of the olive fruit fly made it safely to Guatemala, where he will be helping Pedro Rendon of the APHIS fruit fly facility in El Pino to establish a Psytallia colony. Arnaud will then go to California for a visit with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, who need the parasitoid for their olive fruit fly biological control program. Guy Mercadier left for Cameroun this week to work with the University of Yaoundé on guinea grass (Panicum maximum), a project led by John Goolsby.

Finally, René Sforza is giving an invited seminar at the Buffon Institute, National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), on Thursday, 20 May. His seminar is entitled “Biological Invasion and Control: Little Murders Between Enemies,” and will describe the concepts of classical biological control using examples from work at EBCL (vine mealybug, medusahead rye, and Vincetoxicum).

Have a great week!

 

Daniel A. Strickman, Ph.D.

Interim Director, European Biological Control Laboratory (26 Apr - 28 Sep 2010), Montpellier, France
tel: +33-4-99-62-3020.

Acting Director, Overseas Biological Control Laboratories.

National Program Leader.

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24 May 2010

This week saw some of the first warm weather of the season. Botanically the flora are advancing in development as the spring wildflowers go off.

Medusahead rye is no exception. According to René Sforza, the season is about two weeks retarded from usual. The only small patch of the weed that is known in this area had well developed, but green, seed heads. René would like to find some more locations, but this grass that is a scourge in the western US, is a shy and retiring member of the plant community here. A diligent student, Yves, has spent many hours wandering through the nearby countryside looking, but so far more medusahead has not been fund. Those plants present look very healthy, but something must be holding them back.

René gave his invited talk at the Center for Agro-ecology of Cultivated Lands, National Institute for Agricultural Research, Dijon, and collected natural enemies from Vincetoxicum, a destructive invasive of forests in southeastern Canada and the northeaster US. Franck Hérard went to Italy to collect parasitoids from Asian and citrus longhorned beetle, leveraged by funds from Italy. Farther afield, Arnaud Blanchet is installing Psytalliaparasitoids of the olive fruit fly in the APHIS facilitiy at Los Pinos, Guatemala, with funding by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. In Greece, we had the pleasure of promoting Javid Kashefi to FSN 8, which makes him one of our senior technicians. Considering the major expansion in his activities and responsibilities, the promotion is well deserved.

Around the lab, Bertrand Bertron is saving the lab money by installing a new security gate that will allow greater flexibility for our guard staff. Marie Roche volunteered to organize EBCL’s very own People’s Garden, based on previous years’ success growing vegetables for stink bug projects. She has a farming background, knows what she is doing, and promises that the garden will depend on biocontrol.

Happy Whit Monday (24 May is a French National Holiday) and I will be in the US 22 May – 9 June.

 

Daniel A. Strickman, Ph.D.

Interim Director, European Biological Control Laboratory (26 Apr - 28 Sep 2010), Montpellier, France
tel: +33-4-99-62-3020.

Acting Director, Overseas Biological Control Laboratories.

National Program Leader.

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31 May 2010

(The newsletter was written this week by Marie-Claude BON – Many thanks!)

The field season is at its height although it is about two to three weeks later than usual. This has delayed the collection of weed materials such as Medusahead head rye for René Sforza or insects associated with weeds like Umolpusfor Swallow Worts (René’s project). This week, René has been trying to locate new sites for his weed targets. This phenological delay is also affecting crop plants like wheat as reported by Guy Mercadier and Marie Roche. Wheat is a host plant of the Russian wheat aphid and which both are actively searching for parasitoids after Keith Hopper’s request.

 

For the last 2 weeks, Franck Hérard has been in Italy where he has been working at evaluating the geographical distribution of Aprostocetus anoplophorae, an oophagous parasitoid of citrus longhorned beetle (CLB), and collecting diapausing larvae. He also gave an invited seminar at the “Region Lombardia” at Milan to present his main achievements as regards biological control of CLB. Lately, he has presented the new 3-yr Research Plan (2011-2013) for the biological control of CLB that has been set up in collaboration with the Minoprio Foundation, the University of Milan and the Plant Protection Service of Lombardia.

 

T he 7 thSymposium of the Moroccan Association for Plant Protection was held on May 26-27 at Rabat in Morocco under the aegis of the Agronomical and Veterinary Institute Hassan II where Dominique Coutinot gave two presentations. The first one was on the international and regional legislations and regulations for biological control, and the second on his project surveying Morocco for Peristenus parasitoids in view of biological control of Lygusin the U.S.

 

This week, Guy Mercadier returned from his trip to Cameroon where, with the help of a professor of Entomology of the Yaounde University, he explored and collected natural enemies on guinea grass (Panicum maximum), a project led by John Goolsby and initiated last year. At the same period, Cameroon was celebrating the 50 thAnniversary of their independence, a lot of officials were present at Yaounde; hotels were fully booked and traffic in the city and outer suburbs was very difficult. Nevertheless, Guy succeeded in getting genetic materials as regards natural enemies but also a significant number of new taxa, some of which might be of interest for biological control, some have to be clearly identified.

 

Javid Kashefi has made good progress with his two projects in cooperation with University of Thessaloniki. His efforts to pull together both Fort Detrick (Dr. Dana Berner) and Aristotle University to make progress on microbial control of Canada thistle are starting to pay off. He also met Dr Avtzis, an entomologist from the Hellenic Forest Research Institute, with whom he set up a new research plan for the emerald ash borer (EAB). Although the project is still in its infancy, they have already agreed on doing an inventory in Greece of the presence and distribution of the EAB as well as other Buprestidae that has never be done before.

 

After more than one year, our effort, in collaboration with Dr Rasplus (CBGP, France) to get barcode sequences from several taxa belonging to two genera - Braconand Cosmobaris- through the European Network for barcoding is finally paying off. Mélanie Jeanneau has prepared the shipment of sequencing plates for the National Sequencing Center.

 

Progress has been made per the website and the link between EBCL website and ARS-USDA website according to Xavier Chataigner. One good example is that it is possible now to have access to EBCL employee’s information directly from the REE directory.

 

Enjoy the Memorial Day

 

Daniel A. Strickman, Ph.D.

Interim Director, European Biological Control Laboratory (26 Apr - 28 Sep 2010), Montpellier, France
tel: +33-4-99-62-3020.

Acting Director, Overseas Biological Control Laboratories.

National Program Leader.

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Last Modified: 11/8/2010
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