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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
June 2010

7 June - 14 June - 21 June - 28 June

7 June 2010

(Thanks again to Marie-Claude BON for writing this week’s newsletter).

Last Friday, Franck Hérard returned from Italy with Valeria Todeschini, a student from Milano University to collaborate in studies on the parasitoids of Anoplophora chinensisduring a 4-month internship at EBCL. For the first time, Franck is organizing, with the help of Nathalie Ramualde, a shipment of ALB larvae to the UK for experiments on sound detection to be conducted by Dr Dave Chesmore. Unexpectedly, progress has been made in organizing a shipment of the CLB-form chinensisfrom China to EBCL. If shipment can be made, acceptance testing of the eggs of this form by Aprostocetus anoplophoraeoriginating from CLB-form malasiaca from Italy will be tested for the first time.

Also, this week another student from the University of Toronto (Sandy Smith is the professor), Camille Twomey joined the lab to work with René Sforza on Swallow worts. Proposal for René’s oral presentation entitled “Can chrysomelid beetles control the invasive Vincetoxicumspp. (Apocynaceae)?” at the Neobiota 2010 to be held in Denmark has been accepted.

Arnaud Blanchet returned from his trip to Guatemala where he has been transferring two colonies of Psytallia lounsburyifor mass-rearing at the APHIS fruit fly facility. He helped people there identify the causes of failure in their first attempt. Then he made several visits in different spots in California including CDFA and UC Berkeley to meet people with whom he has been interacting these past years for the olive fruit fly project. He offered to make a presentation of this trip to  the Lab. Charlie Pickett should be coming to EBCL, maybe together with Kent Daane, after his trip to Spain to collect Olive psylla.

This week, Dominique has been exploring and collecting in Morocco, in the area of Meknes, Ifrane and Melli Mella. The collections of Peristenus relictus, a biocontrol agent ofLygus sp., are intended for shipment to New Jersey Department of Agriculture for further mass rearing.

Next week, Franck Hérard and René Sforza will be in Italy and Turkey respectively. Under the aegis of the year of Biodiversity, Guy Mercadier and the student Matthew Augé have rescued from mowing in front of the lab, several orchids. The plants are most likely Bee orchids (Ophrys apifera), a temperate climate orchid that is relatively common locally but nevertheless has a protected status in some other regions in Europe.

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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14 June 2010

This was my first week back at EBCL following almost three weeks away. The place still looks very green, thanks to what I am told have been unusual amounts of rain for this time of year. Wild flowers aren't as dramatically abundant as before, but there are some new ones around and there is still a pretty good show. As you might imagine, the vacation season is heating up with the weather and there is now a volley ball court complete with tons of imported sand on the city's central square (Place de la Comedie).

Franck Hérard was in Italy this week, having taken citrus longhorned beetle infested sentinel trees for exposure to potential natural enemies. The Italian government has cut many trees infested with this invasive beetle, making it necessary to intentionally expose infested saplings in order to make the collections. Franck has an Italian master's student from the University of Milan working with him until the end of September, Valeria Todeschini. René Sforza was in Turkey, again looking for natural enemies of medusahead rye. He also had a master's student arrive, Camille Towney, from Sandy Smith’s lab at the University of Toronto. She has already set up a field trial with Vincetoxicum.

On 10 June, Marie-Claude Bon attended a special session of the General Assembly of Agropolis International, the umbrella organization of Montpellier that includes many national French institutes. EBCL is a member of Agropolis and was therefore entitled to an official vote on the question of whether or not to admit INSERM, the French national medical research institute. INSERM was admitted unanimously, creating a new direction for Agropolis toward the implications of agriculture on human health, particularly in the area of nutrition. Marie-Claude also heard about Montpellier's bid to become the location for CGIAR's main offices, which includes providing a new building. It was gratifying to see that the brochure describing the advantages of Montpellier included the mention of USDA as one of the principal international partners in Agropolis. Agropolis International maintains a web site with significant summary publications on agricultural themes, most recently on GIS and on the partnership with Brazilian Labex. You can download English versions from www.agropolis.fr.

Dominique Coutinot returned from a very successful trip to Morocco. He attended the 7 thCongress of the Moroccan Association of Plant Protection, where he was able to strengthen old contacts and make new ones. He presented two papers, one on biological control of Lygusbugs and the other on international regulations concerning biological control. Following the conference, he did collections in collaboration with Moroccan counterparts in the northern and southern parts of the country. These collections produced several significant results, including new country records and first collections of Lygusin Morocco from one of its weedy hosts, Chenopodium album. The Lygusnymphs are in the EBCL quarantine this weekend, hopefully resulting in some new populations of Peristenus braconid parasitoids. Dominique also received the official certificate from the French Civil Aviation Directorate, granting EBCL a new permit number good until 30 June 2014 that updates the agreement according to European Union standards.

Hope you all have a good 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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21 June 2010

Our own “People’s Garden” is starting to look like something now. Egg plant, fennel, basil, beans, okra, lettuce, carrots, and LOTS of tomatoes are in the 20 rows watered by soaker hoses. Eight “jardiniers” are participating, including Dan Barcea, a first time gardener and our security guard. Other activities on the large plot of EBCL land (about 4 acres) behind the laboratory include an ambitious experiment on movement of the natural enemies of Vincetoxicumover hundreds of meters that involves 300 individually tagged beetles, our simple but much used greenhouses, and Franck Hérard’s forest of experimental trees for the longhorned beetle project.

Charlie Pickett from the California Department of Food and Agriculture was visiting this week. His purpose is to find potential biological control agents of the olive psyllid, which is actually a group of several species in the Mediterranean region. One of these species was recently discovered in California, raising concerns for the state that they have another imported, key pest. Working with Alan Kirk in the field, Dominique Coutinot on quarantine procedures, and Arnaud Blanchet in the lab, Charlie collected the psyllids from a number of groves and individual olive trees in the Montpellier area (attached picture is the village of Pueschambon, taken from an infested and abandoned olive grove). On Friday he was headed off to Spain to get more specimens over the weekend, accompanied by Javid Kahshefi. Javid flew in from our satellite laboratory in Thessaloniki, Greece, to help Charlie, learn more about olive psyllids for exploration work back in Greece, and to have a chance to talk about other potential projects on grapes and olives in the Balkans.

Following several months of collecting the winter moth all over France, Joe Elkington left EBCL headed back to the University of Massachusetts. He is working up new strains of a parasitoid that used to be more effective against this forest pest. It took Joe a lot of patient effort to find areas with infestations, but he managed to get sufficient material in northeastern France. Joe was a pleasant and quiet presence here and it was nice to be able to make an indirect contribution to solving this problem by providing him with facilities and shipping.

René Sforza’s trip to Turkey was productive. Working with commercial and progressive farmers in Cappadocia (central part of the country), he worked out an arrangement to establish trial plots. This will be of great benefit for the medusahead work, as well as for many of the weeds of interest to the Bureau of Land Management. Collecting medusahead rye, René once again found that the plants were severely affected by fungus, though tests by USDA ARS scientists at Fort Detrick have shown a lack of sufficient specificity for the pathogens discovered so far. He was able to find a chrysomelid beetle on medusahead rye that he had not seen before.

Take care,

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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28 June 2010

We had a good report from Charlie Pickett of the California Department of Food and Agriculture that his collections from Spain with Javid Kashefi and from France with Alan Kirk worked out well. The material was hand carried with permits and given directly to Charlie’s collaborator at UC Berkeley, Kent Daane. They say that they’ll get approximately 200 parasitoids from mummies of the olive psylla. Material that Charlie left behind for preparation and development will be shipped out today by Arnaud Blanchet. We are thinking about more work with the olive psylla, which is an emerging problem in California and sometimes a pest in southern Europe. EBCL has also completed the money transfer to Israel’s Cohen Institute for production of Psytalliaparasitoids of olive fruit fly and for some specificity testing, so altogether there has been a lot of activity on olives lately.

René Sforza made a visit to a long-standing field site in Lyon that is located on an island used as the city’s water pumping station. The city is interested in biological inventories and it has been a convenient site to study Vincetoxicumin its native habitat. He also sent the samples of Lobesia (European grape berry moth) preserved for genetic studies to Kent Daane, who also received samples that Javid Kashefi collected in Greece and Albania.

Our interactions within Europe got several boosts this week. First, and many thanks to ARS Headquarters, we seem to have finally found the right administrative procedure for receiving funds from European partners. Currently, we have three projects that have provided these sorts of funds, which are welcome not only financially, but also because they make relationships firmer. Second, we had talks with the CSIRO laboratory next door, leading to some ideas for collaboration that may take advantage of our unique location in the consortium of French laboratories that make up the “Agropolis International.” Finally, Marie-Claude Bon, Arnaud Blanchet, Matthew Augé (master’s student working with René), and I visited INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique: National Institute for Agricultural Research) at their laboratory in Sophia-Antibes. This laboratory has an extensive program in insect biological control and invasion biology. It has collaborated extensively with EBCL in the past and currently uses the strain of Psytalliadiscovered by EBCL. It was clear that the scientists in this laboratory would be valuable partners scientifically in the future as well. In the afternoon we attended the successful thesis defense by a Ph.D. candidate who had been co-advised at the University of Nice by Marie-Claude.

We are continuing work with the Bureau of Land Management on a list of target weeds, with much of the work performed by our collaborator, Massimo Cristofaro of the Biotechnology and Biological Control Agency in Rome, Italy. Javid Kashefi also works with these weeds in the Balkans. John Simons of the BLM Montana State Office discussed our program and its contributions to biological control of weeds of interest. Separately, a different BLM office has obligated money for medusahead rye biological control research at EBCL.

That’s it for now—take care,

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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