Project Number: 6036-32000-048-14-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement
Start Date: Aug 1, 2014
End Date: Jul 31, 2019
1. Identification of specific proteins that can be used to discern fire ants from other ant species. 2. Define attractant characteristics of fire ant alarm pheromone. 3. Characterize environmental conditions in cargo containers and conduct initial probes of the use of the attractant to trap fire ants in cargo containers. 4. Develop automated trap to detect and identify fire ants.
Obj. 1 - Much of the first year will be devoted to identifying specific proteins that can be used to discern fire ants from other ant species. Initially, experiments will be conducted on poison sac proteins; these tend to be unique even among congeners. Genes corresponding to certain poison sac proteins (e.g. SolI) and their homologues from other ant species will be sequenced, translated and compared. Those with sufficient differences will be marked as candidates for the next step. Obj. 2 - Bioactive release rates for the fire ant alarm pheromone will be determined through a combination of bioassays and chemical analyses. Obj. 3 - A cargo container will be rented and placed on location. Environmental measurement equipment will be used to assess daily fluctuations in, e.g. temperature and humidity. Fire ant colonies will be placed in cargo containers and initial trap prototypes evaluated. Obj. 4 - Develop partnership(s) to design and develop a fire ant trap that remotely detects fire ants and transmits photos of detected ants.