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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: EVALUATION AND CHARACTERIZATION OF EXOTIC PLANT PATHOGENS FOR BIOLOGICAL CONTROL OF INTRODUCED, INVASIVE WEEDS

Location: Foreign Disease-Weed Science

Project Number: 1920-22000-031-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: May 25, 2005
End Date: May 24, 2010

Objective:
Discover, identify, and evaluate the efficacy of exotic pathogens as classical biological control agents. Conduct risk analyses to determine the agricultural and ecological safety for the release of pathogens a classical biological control agents. Release, monitor, and evaluate impact of pathogens on weed populations and non-target effects in the field.

Approach:
Exotic pathogens will be collected from symptomatic target weeds in countries where they are native, evaluated for their potential using standard plant pathology methods, and identified using both classical morphological characters and molecular sequence data. Molecular signatures will be developed for unambiguous identification and detection. Pathogens will be evaluated for the risk associated with intended release into ecosystems containing economically and ecologically important North American plant species. Proposals for release of the pathogen into the environment will be developed for review by the Technical Advisory Group for Biological Control Agents of Weeds, and subsequent development of an Environmental Assessment, declaration of Finding Of No Significant Impact and issuance of federal and state permits for release. Inoculum will be prepared in sufficient quantity for release, hosts will be inoculated in the field and provided conditions that favor infection and establishment. Weather and baseline weed population density data will be collected at each release site. The establishment and spread of pathogens will be monitored in the field by recording disease symptoms on the target weed and verifying identification of the pathogen using classical morphology and molecular diagnostic assays. Damage to target weed populations and environmental factors important in pathogen establishment, efficacy and spread, will be measured. Regional collaborations will be established to restore sites where biological control has proven efficacious toward more stable and sustainable ecosystems. BSL recertified on 9-15-08.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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