7 November 2010
A lot has happened in the past few weeks. Shortly after Dan Strickman returned to his duties in Beltsville at the end of September, Kim Hoelmer, the new EBCL Director, arrived in early October, and is settling into his new position. Scientists and technicians are busy tying up the season’s research, as well as preparing for meetings here at EBCL and abroad - all this amidst a background of autumn colors and Indian summer weather.
In an exciting research development, Walker Jones (now at ARS Stoneville, MS) has successfully reared a European egg parasitoid collected by Marie Roche on the stink bug, Piezodorus sp., from a pestiferous stink bug in the U.S. It’s still early, of course, but perhaps we have a new biocontrol agent for American stink bugs. Time will tell.
In October Dominique Coutinot organized and hosted a meeting at EBCL attended by Xavier Langlet (French Ministry of Agriculture), the French national expert for organic farming and for alternative pest controls, and about 10 other researchers from several agencies, including INRA and CSIRO. The meeting was an opportunity for key researchers involved in biological control in the south of France (Montpellier, Toulouse and Antibes) to discuss upcoming French regulatory changes dealing with the introduction of non-indigenous macro-organisms into French territory for scientific purposes. Tours of local containment facilities, including EBCL and neighboring CSIRO quarantines, were also conducted. The essential goal of the visit was to help ensure that the needs of the biocontrol community will be preserved under the new French regulations. Issues raised in the meeting will be summarized in an official report that will be consulted during development of new legal documents relevant to biological control next summer. Obviously, this meeting was critical for the continued success of EBCL programs, and Dominique deserves accolades for his foresight and leadership in the French regulatory arena.
Coordinated by Marie-Claude Bon, EBCL staff members have been busy preparing for a two day meeting next week at EBCL when we will host scientists from two INRA research units in Antibes. INRA is the French government’s agricultural research organization – roughly equivalent to USDA-ARS. Scientists at Antibes and EBCL share a number of common research interests and targets, and this meeting will be an opportunity for everyone to meet, exchange ideas, and initiate future collaborations of mutual benefit.
Last week EBCL hosted a visit by 32 M.S. students from SupAgro, the French agricultural research and teaching institute in Montpellier. Two of EBCL’s technical staff, Matthew Augé and Mélanie Jeanneau, joined EBCL scientists in presenting their research and answering students’ questions. The visit by SupAgro students (who receive degrees in Plant Protection and Environmental Studies and who are searching for 6-month research internships next summer) is an annual event that provides a pool of well-trained and highly motivated interns for EBCL scientists, as well as increasing the visibility of EBCL to the French research community. This year’s visit was organized by Marie-Claude, and we appreciate her leadership in managing this visit by the largest-ever group of SupAgro students.
René Sforza just returned from two joint meetings last week - the Western Regional Biological Control Meeting (W-2185) and the Northern Rockies Invasive Plant Council meeting on Invasive Species in Natural Areas – both held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. René gave a progress report on medusahead, French broom, and the European grapevine moth, and met with collaborators to discuss these projects. EBCL cooperator Massimo Cristofaro (BBCA, Rome) discussed genetics and behaviour of thistle flea beetles. Dan Strickman, Director of the ARS Overseas Biological Control Laboratories, also attended and gave an overview presentation on the ARS overseas labs.
In other news, EBCL recently hosted visits by several scientists. Christelle Geudot, a post-doc in Peter Landolt’s lab (ARS Wapato), spent a day discussing chemical ecology research with Livy Williams and others at EBCL. Gavin Ash, a plant pathologist at the Wagga Wagga campus of Charles Sturt University in Australia, visited to discuss collaboration and sabbatical opportunities at the lab. Régis Babin (CIRAD-Montpellier), who conducted his Ph.D. studies in Cameroon on cocoa mirid biology and management, visited with Arnaud Blanchet, Marie-Claude Bon, Livy Williams and Kim Hoelmer, also to discuss potential collaborations. At EBCL we always appreciate visits from stakeholders, researchers, and students, so if you’re ever in the south of France and can pull yourself away from the wine, cheese, and beaches for a few hours, stop by and see us!
That’s all the news that’s fit to print from EBCL - till next time, Livy and Kim
Livy Williams, III
Kim Alan Hoelmer, Ph.D.
Director - European Biological Control Laboratory