|Cristofaro, Massimo - ENEA C.R. CASACCIA|
|DE Biase, Alessio - UNIV ROME LA SAPIENZA|
|Antonini, Gloria - BIOTECH & BIOCON ASSOC.|
Submitted to: Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 12, 2008
Publication Date: November 16, 2008
Citation: Smith, L., Cristofaro, M., De Biase, A., Antonini, G. 2008. Use of cryptic species for biological control of weeds. Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting. Technical Abstract: Classical biological control of weeds depends on the discovery and evaluation of species of arthropods that are highly host specific. The rarity of such species in nature limits our ability to find safe effective agents to control a continually increasing list of invasive alien weeds. However, scientists have recently discovered some highly host specific biotypes of species that were previously thought to have relatively wide host ranges. Behavioral experiments led to the discovery of these biotypes, and molecular gentic tools enable us to confirm that such biotypes represent clearly distinct genetic populations. Recent examples include Psylliodes chalcomera, a flea beetle that attacks yellow starthistle, Scotch thistle and musk thistle; Ceutorhynchus assimilis, a weevil that attacks whitetop; and Trichosirocalus horridus, a weevil that attacks Scotch thistle and musk thistle. It is critical to develop methods to confirm the identity of live insects before releasing them as classical biological control agents. The existence of genetically stable biotypes or cryptic species may greatly increase the number of prospective biological control agents available; however, it also creates new challenges for the governmental regulation of such agents.