Start Date: May 21, 2010
End Date: Dec 30, 2010
Emphasis will be placed on 1) Using recombinant DNA constructs inserted into the piggyBac transformation vector to genetically transform strains of the fruit flies and moth; 2) Developing a means of generating somatic transformations to test the phenotypes and efficiencies of foreign gene constructs that lead to genetic control of pest insects; 3) Assessing the potential for vector re-mobilization in released transgenic strains and developing new vectors that allow increased stability and targeted integration for greater efficacy and ecological safety; 4) Defining the seasonal distributions of genetically distinct subpopulations of fall armyworm in order to investigate strain-specific behaviors related to plant host usage, migration, and mating; 5) Identifying hidden/cryptic pests through acoustic and microwave radar technology and precisely targeting control measures to limited areas where they will be most effective; 6) Developing economical all-female strains of fruit fly parasitoids for mass-rearing and augmentative release through sex ratio distorting microbial endosymbionts; and 7) Determining how fruit fly and moth parasitoids differ in their abilities to locate hosts at varying densities, and display different propensities to disperse from areas with relatively low hostencounter rates (BSL-1, August 2009). Research is needed to enhance biological control of insects and mites through improved methods for rearing and deploying arthropod predators. The impact of predators can be increased through discovery of essential nutritional factors from prey or hosts that increase reproductive efficiency. Following bioassay-guided isolation and characterization, these factors will be employed as additives for artificial diets. Biochemical assays of contents of these factors in prey will also allow estimates of prey quality as food for predators. Biochemical and behavioral analyses of predators will produce estimates of fitness in insectary and field. Correlations of predator fitness with species and abundance of prey in field-cages will yield knowledge of the quality of prey as food and the quality of predators introduced into cages after rearing on selected diets in the laboratory. Predatory efficiency of generalists such as Orius insidiosus, Podisus maculiventris, and Geocoris punctipes will be assessed through predation rates and selection of prey. Their reproductive potential will be assessed as egg load. General fitness of the predators will be measured through quantitative and qualitative analyses of lipids and proteins. Results will yield commercial additives for artificial diets for predators, biochemical markers for assessment of insect quality, and tools for improved management of existing and introduced populations of predators and pest populations in the field and greenhouse.