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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Biologically-Based Technologies for Management of Crop Insect Pests in Local and Areawide Programs

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Genetics: Identify developmentally significant genes from whole genome and transcriptome sequencing projects that may be targeted or manipulated in transgenic and nontransgenic insect strains for biological control. Test conditional lethal systems using cell death genes and microRNAs targeted to embryos and vital processes in tephritids and lepidopterans and develop germ-line transformation for the cactus moth and Asian citrus psyllid.

2. Detection and attraction: Develop chemical and acoustic detection and attraction systems for pest species and natural enemies: specifically develop trapping systems using floral-derived volatiles to monitor and/or eliminate pest populations and monitor dispersal of augmented parasitoids, detect acoustic signals produced by cryptic/hidden pests for targeted control, and improve detection efficiency through automation.

3. Biological control: Develop strategies for use of parasitoids and predators in IPM of insect pests through behavioral, ecological and physiological studies of their feeding, mating,dispersal and oviposition: Specifically target conservation biological control on overwintering reservoirs of migratory fall army worm and other pests; develop thelytokous strains of fruit fly parasitoids for augmentative biological control, and develop Asian citrus psyllid diets that will facilitate the mass-production of hosts for mass-rearing parasitoids for augmentative parasitoid releases and other forms of biologically-based control; and develop predictive models of pest migration that incorporate climate-change and facilitate the targeting of vulnerable populations.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
New biocontrol strategies will be based on transgenic strains that confer conditional lethality, so that insects can be mass reared under permissive laboratory conditions, while their offspring die in the field under nonpermissive conditions. The tetracycline-suppression (tet-off) embryonic conditional lethality system consists of an embryonic driver construct and a lethality inducing effector construct both integrated by piggyBac transposition into a host genome. To develop RNA inhibition (RNAi) strategies for the conditional genetic constructs gene homologues will be identified, then inhibitory FAW RNAi constructs will be incorporation in artificial media. Recombinants expressing these constructs will be tested and effective constructs introduced.

To precisely target populations of hidden/cryptic pests distinctive spectral and temporal patterns of acoustic signals will be identified. Insect detectability will be optimized by constructing customized attachments or waveguides connecting the sensors to the substrates. Automated systems can be developed that remotely detect, identify, and count specific pests based on the spectral and temporal patterns of signals. An automated system for trapping C. capitata will consist of a lure and a microphone connected to a signal acquisition andanalysis system attached by cable or wireless to a computer. To develop food/host based attractants for opiine braconid fruit fly parasitoids to monitor augmentative releases and to stimulate oviposition volatiles produced by fruit fly larvae, infested fruits and nectar-sourcesare parasitoids to locate hosts, host-habitats and adult food will be identified and formulated into appropriate lures and additives. To develop floral attractants and pheromones for monitoring and/or control of adult lepidopterous pests research will concentrate on phenylacetaldehyde (PAA) plus ß-myrcene, cis-jasmone, benzyl acetate and additional candidate identified by field surveys. Lures will be first tested in flight tunnels and then in the field.

To develop thelytokous strains of fruit fly parasitoids for augmentative biological control, Wolbachia-infected parasitoid surveys will be based on the theory that asexual populations are more persistent in biologically less diverse environments. To develop improved control strategies for lepidopteran pests that recruit natural enemies, combinations of resistant crops and plants supporting natural enemies will be compared in the field using sentinel plants and a split plot arrangement of treatments. To predict the spatial and temporal shifts in infestations of migratory noctuid pests that result from climate change and to target controls, genetic markers will be used to identify source populations from which migratory pathways can be derived, and historical changes in these pathways explained with meteorological and climatic data.


3.Progress Report
Progress was made in the all the major goals of 6615-22000-025-00D Biologically-Based Technologies for Management of Crop Insect Pests in Local and Area-Wide Programs, identification of pest populations and their dispersal, discovery of new biological control agents, their mass-rearing and release. In particular, research advanced the creation of genetic modifications that can induce fruit fly male sterility for Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) programs, but which do not require debilitating irradiation of released males. Technology for inducing new genetic combinations through viruses was transferred to a number of other laboratories, and a new means of adding genes to the body of an insect has been developed. In collaboration with APHIS, a genetic marker that identifies a fruit fly as mass-reared and sterile was found to be stable in a number of trap types. Such experiments will lead to the effective field release of genetically modified control agents. The migrations of the fall army worm were described in finer detail and target areas for their area-wide management have been identified. Work continues on applying biological control to these “hot-spots”. Migration of fall army worms from overwintering sites is being used to model the effects of climate change on the distributions of pests. Chemical attractants are not useful in some situations where pests are hidden and immobile, such as when they infest, grain or wood, but their presence can still be discovered through the sounds they make as they feed. Acoustic pest identification techniques continue to be applied domestically and overseas and Aruba/Curacao. Fruit fly parasitoid host-based oviposition stimulants were identified which could improve production in mass-rearing facilities. Conservation biological control is enhanced by providing food and shelter for natural enemies and continuing surveys have demonstrated that certain plants provide food and alternative hosts for both insect predators and parasitoids.


4.Accomplishments
1. Identifying the origin of migratory moths. Targeting and then controlling migratory populations of the fall armyworm at their source requires discriminating between two host strains that can only be distinguished by a difficult and expensive molecular technique. A new method was developed for strain identification using a nuclear gene that avoids the need for DNA sequencing. It was used to demonstrate the presence of the two strains in Argentina and was more accurate than the alternative analysis. This new method is being applied to migration studies in the U.S. and will facilitate development of strategies to monitor, predict, and ultimately control the movements of these highly mobile pests.

2. RNAi for gene silencing. The ability to silence, turn-off, genes critical for digestion and other critical body functions in insects requires an efficient delivery of RNA “interference” molecules. Five new, highly susceptible target genes were identified in the corn earworm and fall armyworm. Vectors, molecular constructs that can deliver interfering RNAs, were made and tested for efficacy. This is a first step in the production of highly specific pesticide, one that would have no effect on humans, beneficial insects or any other organism.

3. Detection and monitoring of hidden red palm weevils in urban palm trees. Acoustic methods were implemented in Curacao and Aruba for use in monitoring programs against the red palm weevil. Techniques were developed that successfully distinguished the motion and feeding of the beetle from background noises and the sounds produced by many of the other nonpest insects commonly present in the trees. Use of these methods will enable faster inspection of palm trees and reduce the numbers of trees that might be cut unnecessarily.

4. New genes for lethality in fruit flies. Mass releases of sterile males are a widely used means to control pest fruit flies, but the radiation that sterilizes males often damages their sexual performance as well. Conditional-Lethality, where a released insect’s offspring die when certain environmental conditions prevail, is a promising substitute for traditional sterility. A successful conditional-lethality strain for the Caribbean fruit fly was created that survives on a diet supplemented with an antibiotic, tetracycline, but suffers 100% embryonic lethality in the absence of the antibiotic. The genes involved will serve to improve the efficacy of control programs that protect US agriculture from not only fruit flies but also from other potentially invasive pests.

5. Conservation of parasitic flies. Pests can be suppressed by increasing or concentrating natural enemies, and one means of providing them shelter, food and alternative hosts is to add non-crop plants to agricultural environments. While there is a growing body of information on how to sustain parasitic wasps, the equally important parasitic flies are virtually unstudied. Plants were identified that attracted particular families, subfamilies and even genera of such flies. Incorporation of these plants, many of them native and requiring little input, could be part an integrated pest management program designed to protect crops, especially those grown under organic regimens.


Review Publications
Nagoshi, R.N. 2011. Artificial selection for developmental rates in fall armyworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and its implications on the design of feeding studies. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 104(1):88-94.

Mankin, R.W., Hodges, R.D., Nagle, H.T., Schal, C., Pereira, R.M., Koehler, P.G. 2010. Acoustic indicators for targeted detection of stored product and urban insect pests by inexpensive infrared, acoustic, and virbrational detection of movement. Journal of Economic Entomology. 103:1636-1646.

Mankin, R.W., Hagstrum, D.W., Smith, M.T., Roda, A.L., Kairo, M.T.K. 2011. Perspective and promise: a century of insect acoustic setection and monitoring. American Entomologist. 57:30-44.

Ulyshen, M.D., Mankin, R.W., Chen, Y., Duan, J.J., Poland, T.M., Bauer, L.S. 2011. Role of emerald ash borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) larval vibrations in host-quality assessment by Tetrastichus planipennisi (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 104:81-86.

Sanders, W., Mankin, R.W., Liburd, O., Stelinski, L. 2011. Acoustic detection of arthropod infestation of grape roots: scouting for grape root borer (Lepidoptera:Sesiidae). Florida Entomologist. 94:296-302.

Sanders, W.R., Liburd, O.E., Mankin, R.W., Meyer, W.L., Stelinski, L.L. 2011. Applications and mechanisms of wax-based semiochemical dispenser technology for disruption of grape root borer mating. Journal of Economic Entomology. 104(3):939-946.

Roda, A., Kairo, M., Damian, T., Franken, F., Heidweiller, K., Johanns, C., Mankin, R.W. 2011. Red palm weevil (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus), an invasive pest recently found in the Caribbean that threatens the region. European Plant Protection Organization Bulletin. 41:116-121.

Raphael, K.A., Streamer, K., Morrow, J.L., Handler, A.M., Frommer, M., Shearman, D.C. 2011. Germ-line transformation of the Queensland fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni, using a piggyBac vector in the presence of endogenous piggyBac elements. Genetica. 139:91-97.

Schetelig, M.A., Gotschel, F., Viktorinova, I., Handler, A.M., Wimmer, E. 2011. Recombination technologies for enhanced transgene stability in bioengineered insects. Genetica. 139:71-78.

Meza, J., Xavier, N., Zimowska, G.J., Zepeda, C., Handler, A.M. 2011. Development of transgenic strains for the biological control of the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens. Genetica. 139:53-62.

Nirmala, X., Olson, S., Holler, T., Cho, K., Handler, A.M. 2011. A DsRed fluorescent protein marker under polyubiquitin promoter regulation allows visual and amplified gene detection of transgenic Caribbean fruit flies in liquid traps. Biocontrol. 56(3):333-340.

Machado, V., Wunder, M., Baldissera, V.D., Oliveria, J.V., Fiuza, L.M., Nagoshi, R.N. 2008. Molecular characterization of host strains of Spodoptera frugiperda(Lepidoptera:Noctuidae)in southern Brazil.Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 101(3):619-626. :. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 101:619-626.

Nagoshi, R.N. DNA barcoding sequences for Spodoptera ssp. of agricultural importance. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).Public Database. Accession nos:HM756074-HM756093.

Nagoshi, R.N. 2010. DNA barcoding sequences for Spodoptera frugiperda halotypes. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).Public Database. Accession nos:HM136586-HMI136602.

Shirk, P.D., Furlong, R.B., Shapiro, J.P. 2009. Species specific ITS-1 DNA Sequences for the identification of Orius insidiosus, Orius pumilio and Orius tristicolor.. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).Public Database. Acces. No. GU214726-GU214728.

Rohrig, E.A., Shirk, P.D., Hall, D.G., Stansly, P.A. 2011. Larval development of Diaphorencyrtus aligarhensis (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) an endoparasitoid of Diaphorina citri (Homoptera: Psyllidae).. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 104:50-58.

Meagher Jr, R.L., Nagoshi, R.N., Stuhl, C.J. 2011. Oviposition choice of two fall armyworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) host strains. Journal of Insect Behavior. 24(5):337-347.

Pereira, R., Sivinski, J.M., Shapiro, J.P., Teal, P.E. 2011. Influence of methoprene and dietary protein on male Anastrepha suspensa (Diptera: Tephritidae) lipid and protein contents. Florida Entomologist. 94(2):137-144.

Nagoshi, R.N., Fleischer, S., Meagher Jr, R.L. 2009. Texas is the overwintering source of fall armyworm in central Pennsylvainia: implications for migration into the northeastern United States. Journal of Economic Entomology. 38(6):1546-1554.

Shapiro, J.P., Shirk, P.D. 2010. Ovarian development in the predaceous minute pirate bug Orius pumilio: relationship to diet and mating. Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 103(6):971-978.

Shapiro, J.P., Shirk, P.D., Kelley, K., Lewis, T.M., Horton, D.R. 2010. Identity of two sympatric species of Orius (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae). Journal of Insect Science. 10:189.

Sivinski, J.M., Wahl, D., Holler, T., Dobai, S.A., Sivinski, R. 2011. Conserving natural enemies with flowering plants: estimating floral attractiveness to parasitic Hymenoptera and attractions relationship to flower and plant morphology. Biological Control. 58:208-214.

Schetelig, M.A., Xavier, N., Handler, A.M. 2011. Pro-apoptotic cell death genes, hid and reaper, from the tephritid pest species, Anastrepha suspensa. International Congress On Apoptosis. 16(8):759-768.

Schetelig, M.A., Wimmer, E.A. 2011. Insect transgenesis and the sterile insect technique. Book Chapter. II(2):169-194.

Stuhl, C.J., Sivinski, J.M., Teal, P.E., Paranhos, B., Aluja, M. 2011. A compound produced by Fruigivorous Tephritidae (Diptera) larvae promotes oviposition behavior by the biological control agent Diachasmimorpha longicaudata (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Environmental Entomology. 40(3):727-736.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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