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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT & EVALUATION OF BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS FOR INVASIVE SPECIES THREATENING THE EVERGLADES & OTHER NATURAL AND MANANGED SYSTEMS

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Title: Physiological host range of a mutualistic pair: Fergusonina turneri and its obligate nematode Fergusobia quinquenerviae, potential biological control agents of Melaleuca quinquenervia

Authors
item Wright, Susan
item Pratt, Paul
item Center, Ted
item Buckingham, Gary -

Submitted to: Biocontrol
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 10, 2013
Publication Date: March 6, 2013
Citation: Wright, S.A., Pratt, P.D., Center, T.D., Buckingham, G.R. 2013. Physiological host range of a mutualistic pair: Fergusonina turneri and its obligate nematode Fergusobia quinquenerviae, potential biological control agents of Melaleuca quinquenervia. Biocontrol. 23(4):409-422.

Interpretive Summary: In Australia, galls develop on Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T. Blake (Myrtales: Myrtaceae) as a result of the mutualistic association between the fly Fergusonina turneri Taylor (Diptera: Fergusoninidae) and its obligate nematode Fergusobia quinquenerviae Davies & Giblin-Davis (Tylenchida: Sphaerulariidae). The nematode induces gall formation whereas the fly promotes gall maturation. Together they exploit M. quinquenervia buds and inhibit stem elongation and flower formation. We delimited the physiological host range of this pair to determine their suitability as biological control agents of invasive M. quinquenervia populations in Florida USA. Host use was assessed for eight species of Myrtaceae native to Florida, eight phylogenetically related ornamental species, and oviposition alone on five non-myrtaceous species. Although oviposition was less specific, galls developed and matured only on M. quinquenervia. After establishment, galls are predicted to prevent flower and seed production, thereby reducing the regenerative potential of M. quinquenervia. This is the first example of an insect/nematode mutualism released in tandem as biological control agents of an invasive plant.

Technical Abstract: In Australia, galls develop on Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) S.T. Blake (Myrtales: Myrtaceae) as a result of the mutualistic association between the fly Fergusonina turneri Taylor (Diptera: Fergusoninidae) and its obligate nematode Fergusobia quinquenerviae Davies & Giblin-Davis (Tylenchida: Sphaerulariidae). The nematode induces gall formation whereas the fly promotes gall maturation. Together they exploit M. quinquenervia buds and inhibit stem elongation and flower formation. We delimited the physiological host range of this pair to determine their suitability as biological control agents of invasive M. quinquenervia populations in Florida USA. Host use was assessed for eight species of Myrtaceae native to Florida, eight phylogenetically related ornamental species, and oviposition alone on five non-myrtaceous species. Although oviposition was less specific, galls developed and matured only on M. quinquenervia. After establishment, galls are predicted to prevent flower and seed production, thereby reducing the regenerative potential of M. quinquenervia. This is the first example of an insect/nematode mutualism released in tandem as biological control agents of an invasive plant.

Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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