Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory
Project Number: 6032-22000-011-57-R
Project Type: Reimbursable
Start Date: Oct 22, 2013
End Date: May 6, 2014
1. Survey for natural enemies of waterlettuce and waterhycinth in their native ranges. 2. Identify new agents, develop rearing techniques for laboratory colonization, conduct preliminary host specificity trials in Argentina. 3. Collect and ship most promising or approved agents to support quarantine studies in Florida.
Field surveys will be conducted throughout the course of this study. Individual waterhyacinth and waterlettuce plants will be examined in the field using visual inspection, dissection, and processing in portable berlese funnels. All collection locations will be GPS referenced. Candidate insects will be transported to the laboratory for identification, vouchering, and colonization. All voucher specimens will be preserved via pinning or storage in 70% and 100% alcohol for morphological and molecular analysis, respectively, and identified to their taxonomic limits by recognized authorities. Preliminary host range evaluations will be conducted using free- and no-choice testing methods on taxonomically related plant species. Determination of host range will be accomplished by forcing prospective agents to feed, complete development, and reproduce on test plants. Some of this work will be done in more realistic outdoor garden plots settings to reduce artifacts and confirm laboratory-based designs. The most promising agents will then be sent to the Ft. Lauderdale quarantine facility for more intensive testing. All shipments to the U.S. will conform to USDA-APHIS regulations. The results of foreign surveys and initial host range testing will be reported in scientific publications and meetings.