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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CHEMICAL SIGNALS FOR MANAGING INSECTS
2008 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Manage insect pests and beneficials through discovery and development of behaviorally active compounds including insect- and plant-produced attractants, feeding stimulants and deterrents. Enhance the effectiveness of beneficial insects, e.g. predators and parasitoids, with chemical signals.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Isolate chemical mixtures by aeration or direct extraction of insects and plants. Separate components of mixtures using chromatography and determine active compounds using coupled GC-electroantennogram detection and behavioral bioassays. Identify chemical structures using coupled chromatography-mass spectrometry and other spectral means. Verify identifications by synthesis or by comparison to commercial standards, and evaluate active chemicals in the laboratory and field. Characterize neural mechanisms used by targeted species to detect chemical signals. Determine processes regulating synthesis and release of insect and plant signals in order to improve their effectiveness and provide insight into novel approaches.


3.Progress Report
Insects principally communicate with each other via airborne chemical signals (pheromones). Consequently, synthetic versions of pheromones and other behavior modifying chemical signals (semiochemicals) are useful for managing insect pests. Attractants for predators and parasites of pests also offer a means to focus natural enemies on pest infestations, thus enhancing biological control. Objectives of the project include the identification of semiochemical signals, investigation of the mechanisms by which insects detect and orient to semiochemicals, and development of techniques and strategies to use semiochemicals for managing targeted pests and natural enemies. Chemists and entomologists in the Laboratory are investigating the chemical communication systems of a wide variety of pest insects, including Colorado potato beetle (CPB), tropical root weevil, pink hibiscus mealybug (PHM), Lygus and other plant bugs, brown marmorated and other stink bugs, Mediterranean and oriental fruit flies, Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), yellowjackets, gypsy moth, winter moth, light brown apple moth, dogwood borer, cocoa pod borer, and emerald ash borer. Ongoing research on beneficials is emphasizing attractants for general predators, including predacious stink bugs and relatives (predators of caterpillars and beetle larvae), and green lacewings (predators of many small arthropods, especially aphids). Current research on targeted pests and beneficials ranges from the exploratory phase, often employing electrophysiological techniques to pinpoint active compounds, to implementation and commercialization of technologies. Recent examples of research in advanced stages of development are commercialization of PHM and ALB pheromones. The first attractant pheromone identified for a green lacewing is on the verge of being commercialized, and intensive national and international efforts are underway to find pheromones for other lacewings. Single cell electrophysiological recordings from nerve cells within single hairs (sensilla) on the antenna the CPB showed that the beetles have narrowly-tuned receptor neurons for pheromone molecules and specific host-plant volatiles. Protocols to suppress the CPB using synthetic formulations plant volatiles and the aggregation pheromone are now being tested. Experimentation with the tropical root weevil involving multiple sensory modalities is revealing how the behavior of this invasive pest is simultaneously affected by light, wind and smell. Laboratory scientists continue to conduct research on invasive species of particular concern to APHIS, and have numerous collaborations with academic, government and industry scientists, both nationally and internationally. National Program 304 Component II: Biology of Pests and Natural Enemies; Problem Area A: Basic Biology; National Program Component V: Pest Control Technologies; Problem Area D: Other Biologically-Based Control; and National Program Component VI: Integrated Pest Management Systems and Areawide Suppression; Problem: Sampling Methods, Detection, and Monitoring.


4.Accomplishments
1. Attractant for emerald ash borer. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a recently established pest of ash in the U.S., which has the potential to eliminate ash as a component of North American forests. Currently, girdled trees with sticky bands are used to monitor the pest. In cooperation with scientists in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, five volatile chemicals from girdled ash trees were identified that are attractive to both adult male and female EABs. Two commercially-available essential oils that contain these compounds were found: manuka oil and phoebe oil. Phoebe oil was the best attractant in field trapping experiments, and both oils are being developed for use in EAB monitoring traps. Optimization of these traps may reduce or eliminate the need for the destruction (girdling) of uninfested trees. National Program 304 Component VI: Integrated Pest Management Systems and Areawide Suppression; Problem: Sampling Methods, Detection, and Monitoring.

2. Attractant for predacious green lacewings. Lacewings, especially green lacewings, are major predators of aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Because of their commercial availability and resistance to insecticides, lacewings are among the most commonly released predators for augmentative biological control. Earlier, scientists in the Laboratory identified a male-specific compound from the common goldeneyed lacewing (GEL), and devised a method to economically make the suspected attractant from commercially available catnip oil. However, in the initial field tests, traps baited with this compound caught almost exclusively GEL males. Now it has been shown that GEL females are strongly attracted to the vicinity of the pheromone—the first for any kind of lacewing—even though they do not enter traps baited with the pheromone. Attracted wild females laid hundreds of eggs, effectively creating an army of the voracious predator larvae in garden vegetables. This research demonstrates that it is feasible to use artificial chemical attractants to dramatically boost localized wild populations of at least some kinds of predators. National Program 304 Component V: Pest Control Technologies; Problem Area D: Other Biologically-Based Control.

3. Attractant for the cocoa pod borer. The cocoa pod borer (CPB) has been reported as the most serious pest of cacao in Southeast Asia, with losses that can exceed 30% of the crop. Management of the CPB relies heavily on pesticide applications. The CPB sex pheromone was identified in 1986, but efforts to use the pheromone for mating disruption of the CPB were abandoned in the 1990s for economic reasons, and because it was thought that different strains of CPB existed in Asia that behaved differently to the pheromone blend. Reevaluation of the CPB pheromone system by Laboratory scientists showed that the same pheromone blend was attractive throughout Indonesia. A CPB monitoring system based on the newly formulated pheromone has been established, and the attractant is now commercially available. An effective pest monitoring system based on the commercial attractant should enable cocoa farmers in the region to spray only when and where needed, and may lead to effective areawide mating disruption of the CPB. National Program 304 Component V: Pest Control Technologies; Problem Area D: Other Biologically-Based Control.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
None.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of Active CRADAs2
Number of the New MTAs (providing only)6
Number of Invention Disclosures Submitted1
Number of New Commercial Licenses Executed1
Number of Non-Peer Reviewed Presentations and Proceedings1
Number of Newspaper Articles and Other Presentations for Non-Science Audiences1

Review Publications
Crook, D.J., Khrimian, A., Fraser, I., Francese, J.A., Poland, T.M., Mastro, V.C. 2008. Electrophysiological and behavioral responses of Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) to host bark volatiles. Environmental Entomology. 37(2):356-365.

Hitchner, E.M., Dickens, J.C., Youngman, R.R., Schultz, P.B., Pfeiffer, D.G., Kuhar, T.P. 2008. Host plant preference in Colorado potato beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 101(3):859-865.

Khrimian, A., Shearer, P.W., Hamiltom, G.C., Zhang, A., Aldrich, J.R. 2008. Field trapping of the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, to geometric isomers of methyl 2,4,6 decatrienoate. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 56(1):197-203

Khrimian, A., Lance, D.R., Schwarz, M., Leonhardt, B., Mastro, V. 2008. Sex pheromone of browntail moth, Euproctis chrysorrhoea (L.). Synthesis and field deployment. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 56(7):2452-2456.

Riddick, E.W., Brown, A.E., Chauhan, K.R. 2008. Harmonia Axyridis Adults Avoid Catnip and Grapefruit-derived Terpenoids in Laboratory Bioassays. Bulletin of Insectology. 61(1):81-90.

Zhang, A., Kuang, L., Bhanu, K., Hall, D.R., Virdiana, I., Purung, H., Wang, S., Prakash, H. 2008. Evaluation of Sex Pheromone as an IPM Tool for Cocoa Pod Borer Pest Management. Environmental Entomology. 37(3):719-724.

Aldrich, J.R., Oliver, J.E., Shifflet, T., Smith, C.L., Dively, G.P. 2007. Semiochemical investigations of the insidious flower bug, orius insidiosus (say) (heteroptera: anthocoridae). Journal of Chemical Ecology. 33:1477-1493.

Chauhan, K.R., Levi, V., Zhang, Q.-H., Aldrich, J.R. 2007. Female goldeneyed lacewings (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae: Chrysopa oculata) approach but seldom enter traps baited with the male-produced compound, iridodial. Journal of Economic Entolmology. 100:1751-1755.

Wang, S., Zhang, A. 2008. An improved copper-catalyzed cross-coupling reaction of alkyl-triflates with primary alkyl-Grignard reagents. Org. Prep. Interntl. Journal of Organic Chemistry. 40:293-301.

Zhang, Q.-H., Aldrich, J.R. 2008. Sex pheromone of the plant bug, Phytocoris calli Knight. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 34:719-724.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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