details in Agricultural Research.
Lab Plays Key Role in U.S. Biocontrol Research
By Jan Suszkiw
April 17, 2001
Parasitic wasps, flies, fungi and
bacteria abound at the Agricultural Research Services
European Biological Control Laboratory
(EBCL) in Montpellier, France. There, ARS and collaborating scientists are
subjecting these organisms to a battery of tests aimed at pitting them against
non-native insects and weeds that endanger U.S. agriculture.
Montpellier, on Frances Mediterranean coast, is a strategic locale:
From this seaside city, EBCL scientists can hop flights to the pests
points of origin in North Africa, the Middle East, Balkans and Asia, where
natural enemies can be found. Typically, theyll explore sites where the
crops, climate or habitat matches a particular U.S. region where a pest has
become established and a biocontrol agent is needed.
Entomologists Kim Hoelmer and Dominique Coutinot, for example, are now
rearing Hymenopterous wasps, collected last fall from Tunisia, that
parasitize olive fruit flies. In California, the flys establishment
threatens the states $33.9 million olive industry. Charles Pickett, a
California Department of Food and
Agriculture cooperator, is seeking fruit fly parasites that could be
released into olive groves as part of an integrated approach to controlling the
Tim Widmer, meanwhile, is testing the host specificity, virulence and other
features of dozens of fungi and bacteria cultured from salt cedar, yellow
starthistle, giant reed and other Eurasian weeds. While collecting diseased
reed specimens in Nepals wetland areas in September, the plant
pathologist picked up--and had to pick off--another inhabitant: leeches.
Widmers stateside cooperators have requested pathogens from the
weeds native range that could help diminish U.S. infestations of these
Some other pests on the EBCL hit-list include diamondback moths,
gypsy moths, pink hibiscus mealybug, Asian long-horned beetles, wheat stem
sawflies, apple leafrollers, knapweed, hoary cress, and rush skeleton weed.
You can read a longer story about the Montpellier lab and its scientists in
this months issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures principal scientific research agency.
Scientific contact: Chuck Quimby, director, ARS European Biological
Control Laboratory, 34988 St. Gely du Fesc Cedex, France, phone (33) 4 99 62 30
00, fax (33) 4 99 62 30 49, email@example.com.