1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Identify volatile compounds that play a role in the chemical ecology of the Mexican bromeliad weevil and its parasitoid fly biological control agent.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Cooperator has identified, imported and released a promising biological control agent for the Mexican bromeliad weevil, a serious invasive pest of native bromeliads in Florida. ARS will provide access to equipment and consult and instruct on methods to identify volatile compounds that may play an important role in the chemical ecology of these two insects and contribute to effective biological control. COOPERATOR will conduct the research at ARS facilities involving collection of volatiles from host plants and insects, detection of antennally active compounds by gas chromatograph-coupled electroantennography and identification by GC-Mass Spectrometry.
3. Progress Report:
This project is related to Objective 1: Develop semiochemical-based control methods for citrus pests, particularly Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The Mexican bromeliad weevil is an invasive pest that is leading to local extinctions of native bromeliads in natural areas of Florida. ARS provided access for University of Florida collaborators to gas chromatograph-coupled electroantennography (GC-EAD) and identification of antennally-active compounds by GC-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). The goal is to discover key components of the chemical communication that results in host location by the weevil, location of conspecifics, and host location by an introduced parasitoid fly. Successful GC-EAD recordings were obtained from fly antennae in response to both host plant and weevil odors. However, University of Florida collaborators experienced the loss of their fly colony and were not successful in obtaining extramural funding. Re-establishment of the colony is expected in the coming year and efforts to identify relevant pheromones and other semiochemicals are expected to resume. Successful completion of the project will contribute to the quality of life of Floridians by contributing to detection and control methods for this weevil, thereby preserving natural biodiversity.