Submitted to: Weed Science Society of America Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 8, 2003
Publication Date: March 1, 2003
Citation: BRUCKART, W.L., BERNER, D.K., LUSTER, D.G. CURRENT EVENTS AND THE IMPORTATION OF FOREIGN PLANT PATHOGENS FOR WEED BIOLOGICAL CONTROL. WEED SCIENCE SOCIETY OF AMERICA ABSTRACTS. 43:59. 2003. Technical Abstract: One mission at the USDA-ARS Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit (FDWSRU) is to evaluate foreign plant pathogens for biological control of weeds. Research and evaluations are carried out in a unique containment greenhouse facility designed to contain microbial organisms. Justification for this activity is based on the fact that: 1) most of the major weeds in the U.S. are introduced and 2) they do not have the full complement of natural enemies (diseases and insects, in particular) to keep plant densities at economically acceptable levels. Other laboratories are directed at the evaluation and introduction of insect natural enemies of weeds. There have been a number of successes with plant pathogens introduced for weed biological control, but these organisms, as with insect candidates, must be evaluated for potential efficacy and safety. This is not because they are inherently dangerous, but rather because they are not fully understood and because they are of foreign origin. Events of the last year-and-a-half have not altered operations in weed biological control at FDWSRU, since research is being conducted under existing permits and because candidate pathogens for weed control are not classified as potentially dangerous to national security. A permanent moratorium is not likely either, considering the non-issues of national security with these organisms and the importance of invasive plant management. In light of this, several new candidate organisms were collected in Greece, Tunisia, and Turkey, during 2002. Changes and developments with regard to the importation of pathogens for evaluation will be reported at the symposium. Procedure for approving the release of pathogens is not expected to change as a result of events from 2001.