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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics


Location: European Biological Control Laboratory

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Explore for natural enemies of insect pests (e.g., olive fruit fly, Lygus bugs), and wood borers (e.g., longhorned beetles and emerald ash borers) and other pests as identified as high priority targets by the ARS Office of National Programs. • Sub-objective 1A - Discovery and collection of potential biological control agents for service to other laboratories that provide further development of the natural enemies. • Sub-objective 1B - Quantitative measurements and observations that lead to new documentation on biology of potential biological control agents and their hosts. • Sub-objective 1C - Genetic studies that enhance the chance of success with new biological control agents. Objective 2: Identify, colonize and evaluate the most promising natural enemies and ship them to U.S. cooperators. Results of laboratory (including genetics and behavior) and field studies will be used to improve the ability to predict key factors for application to future programs. • Sub-objective 2A – Identification, colonization, and evaluation of efficacy of biological control agents. • Sub-objective 2B – Documentation of life table parameters and biological characteristics. • Sub-objective 2C – Genetic parameters as predictors of successful biological control.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Biological control through the introduction of natural enemies continues to be one of the most effective, cheap, and environmentally safe solutions to problems created by introduced pests and invasive species. We propose to take advantage of the experienced staff, biologically strategic location, and excellent facilities of the European Biological Control Laboratory in Montpellier, France, and its satellite laboratory in Thessaloniki, Greece, to discover potential biological control agents, characterize them genetically, evaluate their efficacy, and describe relevant aspects of their bionomics. Scientific output from these efforts will include taxonomic, genetic, and biological descriptions of important species in the Palearctic and Ethiopian regions. The target species of these efforts will include the olive fruit fly, vine mealybug, the European grapevine moth, the diamondback moth, the olive psyllid, Lygus bugs, and Asian longhorned beetle. In addition, we will use model species (the southern green stink bug and the tarnished plant bug) to test the hypothesis that the success of parasitoid wasps as biological control agents can be predicted by examining genetic parameters.

3. Progress Report:
Explore for and characterize natural enemies of priority pests (Objective 1), we conducted foreign exploration for olive psylla in Spain, natural enemies of bagrada bug in Pakistan, Asian longhorned beetle parasitoids in Korea, cattle fever tick in Turkey, and by agreement (0212-22000-024-18S), parasitoids of spotted wing drosophila and brown marmorated stink bug in China. A survey designed to detect the presence of olive fly in Nepal was conducted to link Chinese populations with western distributions. Collaborative work with CSIRO (Australia) to discover natural enemies of the dubas bug, a key pest of dates in the Middle East, was also begun. Identify, evaluate, and colonize promising candidates for U.S. cooperators (Objective 2), we collected and shipped lygus bug parasitoids from France to U.S. cooperators for field release in California, with support from industry (0212-22000-024-14R). We continued surveys and collected parasitoids that attack the kudzu bug, and sent collections to ARS-Stoneville for host range studies. Molecular analysis showed that short- and long-winged forms of the parasitoid are probably two different species. Natural plant volatiles that attract European grapevine moth were tested to evaluate their utility in monitoring moth activity and management. A study was begun in collaboration with researchers in the U.S., Israel, Colombia, and China on the ovipositional response by omnivorous mirid bugs (that feed on both plants and insects) to plant host quality and insect prey availability. Reared substantial numbers of olive fly parasitoids for cooperators to expand the parasitoid’s establishment in California and studied its nutritional and behavioral ecology to improve rearing. Research with the Italian agency MINOPRIO (0212-22000-024-8T) supported efforts to establish an egg parasitoid of citrus longhorned beetle in Northern Italy. Continued collection of field samples for analysis of microsatellite markers of an introduced lygus parasitoid in our retrospective genetic analysis of US lygus biocontrol programs. Asian egg parasitoids of brown marmorated stink bug were characterized with species-specific markers and development of a microsatellite library of population markers for a principal Asian parasitoid was started. Interagency agreements 0212-22000-024-13I and -15I supported olive fly and stink bug projects. The American Farm School (MOU 0212-22000-023-11M) provides our Greek substation with lab and office space to facilitate exploration and field work in the Balkan region, including collaboration on sustainable olive fly management. An ancillary project (0212-22000-024-11T) involves DoD, university and Greek agencies in faunistic survey and population monitoring in northern Greece for sand flies and mosquitoes, including monitoring West Nile virus and malaria. Continued testing traps and other management approaches and provided training to Greek agencies. The overall impact of the laboratory’s research is that producers will have new biological control agents available that will help them manage key insect pests by reducing chemical pest management inputs, thereby maximizing profits and sustaining yield.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Chaskopoulou, A., Dovas, C.I., Chaintoutis, S.C., Kashefi, J., Koehler, P., Papanastassoupoulou, M. 2013. Detection and early warning of WNV circulation in Central Macedonia, Greece using sentinel chickens and mosquitoes. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases. doi:1089/vbz.2012.1176.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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