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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
July 2010

6 July - 12 July - 19 July - 26 July

6 July 2010

Franck Hérard returned from the Milan, Italy area this week with a first set of sentinel maple trees containing citrus longhorned beetle eggs (Anoplophora chinensis). This species is similar to the Asian longhorned beetle and a concern to Italy, which is funding this work. The sentinel trees were grown here at EBCL and exposed for two weeks at four sites in Italy known to have produced a specific egg parasitoid of the citrus longhorned beetle, Aprostocetus anoplophorae. After exposure, the trees are held in the quarantine greenhouse here in Montpellier, the tree bagged so that emerging parasitoids can be captured. Significantly, post-hibernating individuals of the parasitoid emerged in quarantine as adults from host eggs that were previously collected in May 2010 at the end of the larval diapause of the parasitoid. These parasitoids will be used for behavioral and life history studies. Yet another set of 18 sentinel maples trees containing freshly laid citrus longhorned beetle eggs was prepared in quarantine to be exposed on July 6 thin several sites in Italy for a study on the geographic distribution of the egg parasitoid. Hauling these trees back and forth, working with Italian authorities and students, keeping a colony of the beetle in quarantine to provide eggs, and identifying the parasitoids is an ambitious piece of biological control work. The successful discovery of the parasitoids in Italy suggests that looking in the native range of an invasive pest is not the only way to find candidate biological control agents.

The team led by Marie-Claude Bon added a French sample to the genetic collection of silver leaf nightshade. This weed is a real problem in southern Europe and northern Africa, but a native to the southwestern US and much of Latin America. Working with her master’s degree student, Julie Ripoll, Marie-Claude went to Vic la Guardiole to find the only known infestation of the weed in France. Other samples have come from Greece (Javid Kashefi), Texas (Randy Coleman), Argentina (Juan Briano), and Australia (Matthew Purcell). The objective of Julie’s research is to describe the population genetics of the weed where it is a problem in Greece, hopefully tracking its origin and increasing the chance of developing successful biological control. This project supports the ARS goal of supporting international food security.

Javid Kashefi and our collaborator at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Dr. Anastasia Lagopodi, have been working with Dana Berner at the USDA ARS Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit at Fort Detrick, Maryland, on a couple of projects. One of these is development of Puccinia punctiformisfungus as a biological control agent of Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense). They found native plants infected with the fungus in Greece and are harvesting the material for propagation.

Finally, Fatiha Guermache and Mélanie Jeanneau prepared posters describing projects they have done in collaboration with Marie-Claude Bon and a number of French and USDA ARS cooperators. Fatiha’s poster is about ploidy of the Vincetoxicum nigrum and rossicum invasive weeds, using flow cytometry with the help of our French research neighbor, CIRAD. She showed that there was no difference in ploidy between native and invasive populations. Mélanie applied a very recent technique using 454 pyrosequencing to find microsatellites for population genetic studies of Ceutorhynchusweevils that are candidate biological control agents of Lepidium invasive weeds (white top or pepper grass). This was the first time this technique was applied to a biological control agent and it proved to be more efficient and productive than the usual method. You can take a look at these posters on the EBCL website within the next couple of days ( http://www.ars.usda.gov/Main/site_main.htm?modecode=02-12-00-00 ).

 

Take care and stay cool,

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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12 July 2010

Last Monday Xavier Leprieur and I had a chance to visit the US Consul General, Kathleen Riley, in Marseille. We described the functions, advantages, and challenges of EBCL in a three-page briefing package and received a lot of questions in return. As you might expect from someone without an agricultural background, much of what EBCL does was new to Consul Riley, but she was interested and impressed with the potential for interaction with French institutions and with American visitors. She had already heard about USDA’s “Feed the Future” initiative because of the emphasis on international cooperation. For EBCL, it was most important for us that she knows how we can interact with people important to her. I think it also must be a positive message that USDA ARS makes this serious investment in international research.

A couple of welcome visitors came to EBCL last week. First were a group from Agropolis International, the umbrella organization that facilitates coordination and communication among the many research institutions in Montpellier. Mdm. Claudine Soudais represented the office that helps foreign scientists and researchers, and Mdm. Chantal Salson represented their technical and scientific information office. They saw EBCL from top to bottom, opening up what was clearly a new world of entomology for them. Later in the week, Marie-Claude Bon hosted Dr. Jean Nguya K. Maniania, an insect pathologist from ICIPE in Nairobi, and Dr. Jacques Fargue, a very recently retired INRA insect pathologist. In addition to more specific discussions with Marie-Claude, we discussed the future of the pathogen collection here at EBCL and the possibility of adding Dr. Fargue’s old collection. As throughout ARS, the fate of significant collections is a problem involving the balance between resources and need. Finally, William Meikle, former USDA ARS scientist at EBCL, stopped by with his family for a brief visit. He certainly was warmly received by everyone.

Our Canadian visiting student, Camilla Towney, reported that her small Vincetoxicum plants were defoliated by a potential biocontrol agent. René Sforza made more collections from this invasive weed, going to the Jura Mountains, as well as completing the shipment of Lobesia botrana(European grape berry moth) from all over Europe to Dr. Kent Daane at UC Berkeley. Julie Ripolle, a French student working with Marie-Claude Bon, finished some of the sequencing on silver leaf nightshade from Argentina. Javid Kashefi in Thessaloniki is just starting some preliminary work on the life cycle of olive psylla, a direct result of Charlie Pickett’s (CDFA) visit several weeks ago.

Franck Hérard, his Italian student, Valeria Todeschini, and his technician, Nathalie Ramualde, took another set of 18 sycamore maples (Acer pseudoplatanus) to Milan and Brescia, Italy. These trees had been freshly infested in quarantine with eggs of the citrus longhorned borer (Anoplophora chinensis). The trees are exposed for two weeks in areas infested with the CLB as a way to collect eulophid egg parasitoids (Aprostocetus anoplophorae). At the same time, they picked up the previous set of sentinel trees. Meanwhile, back at EBCL, studies are being conducted on the effects of temperature and humidity on the parasite, in order to work out the best means of rearing it.

Dominique Coutinot, our quarantine officer, arranged for the audit of EBCL by a firm that specializes in such service for the General Directorate of Civil Aviation. This audit is part of the certification process for EBCL as a “Known Packer” for shipments by air. The occasion for the recertification was an upgrade to new European Union standards. We passed.

Finally, our own René Sforza won the 6 km foot race sponsored by our larger neighbor, CIRAD.

 

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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19 July 2010

Although you would not find many people here if you visited this week, it has actually been quite busy in the laboratory and the field. Today Marie Roche departed for Grenada, Spain to expose the eggs of the green stink bug to parasitoids. This trip developed some new associations for EBCL in Spain and involved months of preparation. It supports some work that Walker Jones is continuing and crosses over to Marie-Claude Bon’s project proposed for the next five-year cycle. Patrick Moran (USDA ARS Beneficial Insects Research Unit, Weslaco) is visiting Spain to do further studies on the biology of the difficult-to-colonize biocontrol agent of Arundogiant cane, Lasioptera donacis (Diptera: Cedidomyiidae), where he will be joined later this week by Alan Kirk from EBCL. Working with Franck Hérard, Dr. Gaylord Desurmont, Cornell University, finishes up his 10 days at EBCL studying oviposition behavior of the virburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni), which occurs as a native species in this area. Finally, the much anticipated arrival of our new American scientist, Livy Williams, occurs this Tuesday night.

Matthew Augé, a master’s student interning with René Sforza, worked with Olivier Simonot to release 300 individually marked chrysomelid beetles in a large plot out back of the lab. The plot had been studded with 38 target plants (Vincetoxicum, an invasive pest of northeastern forests) in concentric circles. A week of daily counts has already shown that the beetles move 15 meters from the release point, as well as many other interesting observations on behavior and survival. This difficult experiment is going well, though Matthew limped a bit following his weekend rescue of a little girl from a rapidly flowing river. The same invasive weed was targeted by a shipment of the noctuid moth, Abrostola clavissa, to Lindsey Milbrath at USDA ARS Biological Integrated Pest Management Research Unit, Ithaca, NY. Valeria Todeschini and Nathalie Ramualde got the second of two afternoon sessions on quarantine from Dominique Coutinot, which is part of a standard program of training at EBCL resulting in certification to use the quarantine facility.

We received confirmation of the impact of EBCL’s work from the state of Montana, which has declared a success against knapweed by biological control. The complex of 13 insects introduced over a period of over a decade involved many contributors, including CABI and Montana State University. Lincoln Smith (USDA ARS Invasive and Exotic Weeds Research Unit, Albany, CA) and Rouhollah Sobhian (former EBCL-Greece, now retired) provided details on ARS contributions. Paul Dunn (retired), Sara Rosenthal (deceased), and Gaetano Campobasso (deceased) evaluated the moth Pterolonche inspersa, and the weevil, Bangasternus fausi. Norman Reese (retired) worked on a fly, Urophora quadrifasciata, in conjunction with Jim Story of Montana State University. Rouhollah Sobhian, working in Greece, discovered Bangasternus fausti and the very important agent, Larinus minutus.

Marie-Claude Bon returned from the European Weed Research Society’s meeting in Budapest. She gave an oral presentation on Vincetoxicumand displayed two posters. The meeting was an occasion to make contacts in weed science but outside of biological control. One of the posters reported on the use of cell sorting techniques to evaluate chromosome numbers (ploidy) of the source and invasive populations of the weed, showing polypoidy in both. The other applied a new technique involving intense sequencing with the 454 pyrosequencing machine to find microsatellite markers more efficiently. This was the first time that this technique was applied for biological control and it generated a lot of interest at the meeting.

Franck Hérard is continuing his intensive project to evaluate parasitoids of the citrus longhorned beetle in Italy. As potted maple trees are infested in quarantine at EBCL, he is exposing another set of 18 sentinel trees in Italy from 20 July through 3 August. Aprostocetus anoplophorae (Hymenoptera:  Eulophidae) could be an important biological control agent as an egg parasitoid and biological studies of its fecundity and longevity are being conducted at EBCL.

Hope your summer is going well,

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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26 July 2010

William Meikle headed back to the US after a couple weeks with his family here in Montpellier. It was a great opportunity to discuss the background of the EBCL and potential for its future. Although a couple of people have come back from vacation (Arnaud Blanchet and René Sforza), things are pretty quiet still with Dominique Coutinot, Marie-Claude Bon, and Xavier Leprieur on leave this week. They are all “reverse commuting” on vacation, as much of the rest of Europe seems to be in Montpellier. Livy Williams and family got here last week. He has an office, laboratory, email address ( lwilliams@ars-ebcl.org ), cell phone number (from the US: 011 33 6 20 74 01 15), and office number (011 33 4 99 62 30 45) – as well as appointments with real estate agents, the Prefecture, the bank…

Franck Hérard was in Italy last week on his fourth visit funded by MINOPRIO to develop an egg parasitoid of the citrus longhorned beetle. In the meantime, Nathalie Ramualde is working in the quarantine laboratory doing laboratory tests of the valuable specimens of parasitoids that have been recovered so far. She has seen parasitism in the laboratory, which is a good sign, but there is much to do before having a vigorous colony.

Matthew Augé and Olivier Simonot are continuing the counts of Chrysochus beetles (Chrysomelidae) in the plot of Vincetoxicuminvasive weeds outside. They are still counting about 80 beetles per day out of the 300 released two weeks ago. That work will be part of the report they make at the Colloquium of the Biology of the Insect, to be held 18-20 October in Lyon. Camilla Twomey is making behavioral observations on Chrysochusas well. The number of beetles per plant developed by Dorothy McGuire last summer at EBCL helped Camilla design the experiments. Camilla and Dorothy come from Sandy Smith’s laboratory at the University of Toronto.

Guy Mercadier is looking into improvements in our insect-pathogenic fungus collection. Some of the directions may include use of an automatic liquid nitrogen system, expansion of the capacity, and integration of INRA collections made by Jacques Fargue. This effort is part of addressing the challenge of preserving and using collections. Next the insects?

In Greece, Javid Kashefi is getting materials from the University of Florida to do some testing of stable flies. The plan for silver leaf nightshade is to do mapping of its distribution in northern Greece, with the Benaki Institute’s Maria Kati doing southern Greece. Eventually we hope to be able to detect this highly invasive week (from the Americas) by remote sensing. Javid will be presenting his work in Greece and a summary of EBCL at the Control of Mediterranean Invasive Plants meeting in Turkey on August 1.

 

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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