Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects
2011 Annual Report
2. Expand current biocontrol efforts by discovering and developing new parasites and pathogens; improving mass culture and field release systems; and defining host specificity of natural enemies.
3. Characterize semiochemicals through investigation of pheromone biosynthesis and release; use these findings to develop novel biologically-based control and surveillance methods, including the detection and treatment of incipient or low level populations.
4. Develop integrated pest management plans that utilize available control methods, perform comprehensive risk assessment, and that can be adapted to specific stakeholder needs, including local eradication.
The first ant DNA virus, SiDNV, was discovered from the fire ant. Studies to characterize and evaluate its impacts on fire ant colonies are underway. Genome integration of S. invicta RNA virus 1 (SINV-1) into the fire ant host genome was found to not occur – important result supporting the potential of this virus as a microbial insecticide. These studies provide critical basic information necessary to exploit the viruses as microbial agents against fire ants. Unit scientists are the world authorities on viruses in ants.
A patent application was filed on RNAi to silence genes critical to normal functioning of fire ant colonies. A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement was put in place that will facilitate the development of RNAi for control. An invention disclosure was submitted and approved for the use of RNAi silencing to silence a key fire ant receptor gene. Natural product derived extracts and compounds were evaluated as fire ant repellents, useful to exclude fire ants where they are not wanted. Alarm pheromone levels over time in workers and female sexuals/queens were determined. Queens have an unusual pattern over time suggesting unknown alarm pheromone functions.
A draft genome of the fire ant was generated. Several unique aspects of the genome are likely linked to the complex social behavior of this species. These data provide a new resource for functional genomic studies. A population genetic study of introduced fire ants revealed that a number of queens mate with more than one male depending on the social form of her first male mate. A comprehensive population genetic study of fire ants in China revealed several patterns regarding the invasion history, routes of subsequent dispersal, and signatures of genetic bottlenecks of this pest ant species in China.
Two commercially available ant baits (containing metabolic or nerve inhibitors) consistently killed colonies of the invasive crazy ant, Nylanderia pubens. However commercially available insect growth regulating (IGR) baits had minimal effects although they were predicted to have better potential against this ant. Collections of the invasive crazy ants, N. pubens, were made from four regions in Florida and their genome sequenced. This information will be used to survey crazy ant populations for pathogens, e.g. viruses, and may lead to new biological control agents for this invasive ant.
Choi, M.Y., Vander Meer, R.K., Shoemaker, D.D., Valles, S.M. 2011. PBAN gene architecture and expression in the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Journal of Insect Physiology. 57(1):161-165.
Wurm, Y., Wang, J., Riba-Grognuz, O., Corona, M., Nygaard, S., Hunt, B.G., Ingram, K.K., Falquet, L., Nipitwattanaphon, M., Gotzek, D., Dijkstra, M.B., Oettler, J., Shih, C., Wu, W., Scotty Yang, C., Thomas, J., Beaudoing, E., Pradervand, S., Flegel, V., Fabbretti, R., Stockinger, H., Long, L., Farmerie, B., Oakey, J., Harkins, T., Boomsma, J.J., Pamilo, P., Yi, S.V., Heinze, J., Goodisman, M.A., Farinelli, L., Harshman, K., Hulo, N., Cerutti, L., Xenarios, I., Shoemaker, D.D., Keller, L. 2011. The genome of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 10:1073.
Sharma, K., Vander Meer, R.K., Fadamiro, H. 2011. Phorid fly, Pseudacteon tricuspis, response to alkylpyrazine analogs of a fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, alarm pheromone. Journal of Insect Physiology. 57:939-944.
Allen, C., Valles, S.M., Strong, C.A. 2011. Multiple virus infections occur in individual polygyne and monogyne Solenopsis invicta ants. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 107(2):107-111.
Suckling, D.M., Stringer, L.D., Bunn, B., El-Sayed, A.M., Vander Meer, R.K. 2010. Trail pheromone disruption of red imported fire ant. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 36:744-750.
Valles, S.M., Oi, D.H., Porter, S.D. 2010. Seasonal variation and the co-occurence of four pathogens and a group of parasites among monogyne and polygyne fire ant colonies. Biological Control. 54(3):342-348.
Ascunce, M.S., Valles, S.M., Oi, D.H., Shoemaker, D.D., Plowes, R., Gilbert, L., Lebrun, E.G., Sanchez-Arroyo, H., Sanchez-Pena, S. 2010. Molecular diversity of the microsporidium Kneallhazzia solenopsae reveals an expanded host range among fire ants in North America. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 105:279-288.
Yang, C., Yu, Y., Valles, S.M., Oi, D.H., Chen, Y., Shoemaker, D.D., Wu, W., Shih, C. 2010. Loss of microbial (pathogen) infections associated with recent invasions of the red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta. Biological Invasions. 12(9):3307-3318.
Levine, B.K., Mirjankar, N., Vander Meer, R.K. 2010. Analysis of chemical signals in red fire ants by gas chromatography and pattern recognition techniques. Talanta. 83:216-224.
Vander Meer, R.K., Choi, M.Y. 2011. Pheromone Biosynthesis Activating Neuropeptide (PBAN)/Pyrokinin Family of Peptides and Fire Ants, Solenopsis spp. Formosan Entomologist. 31:133-147.
Valles, S.M., Strong, C.A., Hashimoto, Y. 2007. A new Positive-strand RNA Virus with Unique Genome Characteristics from the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta. Virology. 365(2):457-463. Hashimoto, Y., Valles, S.M. 2007. Solenopsis invicta virus-1 tissue tropism and intracolony infection rate in the red imported fire ant: A quantitative PCR-based study. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 96(2):156-161.
Porter, S.D., Valles, S.M., Davis, T.S., Briano, J.A., Calcaterra, L.A., Oi, D.H., Jenkins, R.A. 2007. Host specificity of the microsporidian pathogen vairimorpha invictae at five field sites with infected solenopsis invicta fire ant colonies in northern argentina. Florida Entomologist. 90(3):447-452.
King, J.R., Porter, S.D. 2007. Body size, colony size, abundance, and ecological impact of exotic ants in Florida's upland ecosystems. Evolutionary Ecology Research. 9(5):757-774.
Ometto, L., Shoemaker, D.D., Ross, K.G., Keller, L. 2010. Evolution of gene expression in fire ants: the effects of developmental stage, caste, and species. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 28:1381-1392.
Porter, S.D., Graham, L., Johnson, S.J., Thead, L.G., Briano, J.A. 2011. The large decapitating fly Pseudacteon litoralis (Diptera: Phoridae): Successfully established on fire ant populations in Alabama. Florida Entomologist. 94:208-213.
Bouwma, A., Shoemaker, D.D. 2011. No Evidence for Wolbachia Phenotypic Effects in Newly Mated Queens of the Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Journal of Insect Science. 2:1-19.
Gotzek, D., Clarke, J., Shoemaker, D.D. 2010. Mitochondrial genome evolution in fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology. 10:1-13.
Callcott, A., Porter, S.D., Weeks, R.D., Graham, L.C., Johnson, S.J., Gilbert, L.E. 2011. Fire ant decapitating fly cooperative release programs (1994-2008): Two Pseudacteon species (P. tricuspis, P. curvatus) rapidly expand across imported fire and populations in the southeastern United States. Journal of Insect Science. 2:1-25.
Gotzek, D., Robertson, H.M., Wurm, Y., Shoemaker, D.D. 2011. Odorant binding proteins (OBPs) of the Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): An example of the problems facing the analysis of widely divergent proteins. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 6:1-9.
Ascunce, M.S., Yang, C., Oakey, J., Calcaterra, L., Wu, W., Shih, C., Goudet, J., Ross, K.G., Shoemaker, D.D. 2011. Global invasion history of the Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta. Science. 331:1066-1068.
Fritz, G.N., Fritz, A.H., Vander Meer, R.K. 2011. Sampling High-Altitude and Stratified Mating Flights of Red Imported Fire Ant. Journal of Medical Entomology. 48(3):508-512.