Submitted to: Plant Disease
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 26, 2005
Publication Date: June 20, 2005
Citation: Biological Control 34:222-232 Interpretive Summary: Foreign plant pathogens have been used successfully for biological control of introduced invasive weeds in the U.S. At the Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research unit of USDA, ARS, foreign pathogens, that may have potential as biological control agents of introduced weeds, are evaluated in quarantine for their effectiveness and safety. The effectiveness of the pathogen is measured by the ability of the organism to cause disease on the introduced weed. The safety of the pathogen is measured by the inability of the organism to cause damage to other plants. Evaluation of both effectiveness and safety is a time-consuming process, and it is not always easy to determine whether to continue or abandon further work on a potentially important pathogen that could successfully control an introduced weed. This paper examines steps that are involved in this decision-making process.
Technical Abstract: Plant pathogens for biological control of weeds must satisfy criteria for efficacy, safety, and deployment before they are actually included in the arsenal of weed management strategies. Decisions are made throughout the development of each candidate agent concerning whether or not further research is justified. These decisions concern pathogen attributes (e.g., collection information, Koch's postulates, long-term storage, etc.), issues concerning risk (e.g., host specificity, etc.), and other factors (e.g., deployment, etc.). In addition to the scrutiny from researchers, who become advocates at the time a proposal is made to regulators for introduction or utilization of a candidate, the proposed use of exotic pathogens for release receives additional review by regulators in APHIS and, possibly, EPA, if commercial sale of a biological control product is planned. In this paper, the decision-making processes for continuing or abandoning research on a candidate exotic pathogen for biological control of weeds in the U.S. is examined.