SYSTEMATICS OF PARASITIC AND PLANT-FEEDING WASPS OF AGRICULTURAL IMPORTANCE
Project Number: 1275-22000-231-00
Start Date: Mar 18, 2005
End Date: Mar 17, 2010
Develop new systematic knowledge and tools for beneficial biocontrol agents of weeds or pest insects and pest wasps damaging crops, by generating morphological and molecular character data to test species limits and phylogenetic hypotheses, diagnose populations and species, and create identification tools. Develop online systematic resources on agriculturally important parasitic and plant feeding wasps to provide data and images for use in pest management, quarantine, conservation and other activities. Provide expert identifications of agriculturally important wasps as urgently required by ARS, other state and federal researchers, and action agencies and curation and management of the wasps in the National Collection of Insects. Research will include: new classificiation for the seed feeding genus Systole, an interactive identification tool for wasps attacking pest mealybugs, and new data on pest sawflies.
The morphology and DNA of agriculturally important groups of wasps will be studied to discover characters useful for the diagnosis and identification of pests and beneficial species, and to test competing hypotheses of their relationships and improve their classification. The following methods will be used as appropriate: study morphology by light and scanning microscopy; extract and sequence DNA from both nuclear and mitochondrial genes; compile character matrices to produce descriptions, phylogenetic analyses, and identification tools (keys); illustrate diagnostic characters; study type specimens to correctly assign names to species and higher groups; field research to obtain samples and discover host relationships; and database specimen data to compile and analyze distribution and host information. Specimens submitted by ARS and other researchers and APHIS and other action agencies will be identified using available literature and comparison with specimens in the National Collection.