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ARS Home » Crop Production and Protection » Research » Research Project #430982

Research Project: Biological Control of Invasive Weeds and Pests from Australia and Asia

Location: Crop Production and Protection

Project Number: 0206-22000-003-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 14, 2015
End Date: Oct 13, 2020

Objective:
Objective 1: Explore for natural enemies, including microorganisms, of invasive weeds and arthropod pests identified as high priority targets by the ARS Office of National Programs, performing collections, importations and exportations in compliance with local and international regulations. High priority weeds include Lygodium microphyllum, Casuarina spp., Paederia foetida, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa,Hydrilla verticillata, Myriophyllum spicatum. (non-hypothesis driven) [NP304, Component 2, Problem Statements 2A3, 2B3, 3A2 and 3B2] Objective 2: Perform taxonomic and phylogenetic studies of the invasive climbing fern, Lygodium microphyllum, other weed targets and their arthropod herbivores, and arthropod pests and their natural enemies, as needed to support development of biological control agents. (non-hypothesis driven) [NP304, Component 1, Problem Statements 1A and 1B] Objective 3: Identify the biological and physical parameters that affect the efficacy and safety of potential agents, including climatic conditions, host specificity, effective rearing conditions, and biogeography. [NP304, Component 2, Problem Statements 2A3, 2B3, 3A2 and 3B2]

Approach:
Objective 1: Foreign exploration will be conducted in Australia and Southeast Asia for potential biological control agents of Melaleuca quinquenervia, Lygodium microphyllum, Casuarina spp., Paederia foetida, Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, Myriophyllum spicatum and Hydrilla verticillata and additional weed and arthropod targets as determined by ARS and stakeholders. Selection of search areas will be guided by the center of origin of the weed species (classical and molecular diagnostics), habitat diversity, climate matching, specific phenology and ecology of the targets, and consultation with local and foreign contacts. Objective 2: High priority agents identified in exploration will be further evaluated in laboratory and field studies. Studies will investigate the basic biology of the organism, seasonal phenology, impact on its host, and host range. Specific aspects of an agent’s biology such as critical temperature limits will be investigated. Objective 3: Field and laboratory studies will be conducted on target weed and arthropod species which measure factors such as stand regeneration, seed production, biomass accumulation, litter fall, etc.(for weeds) and basic biology and host specificity of arthropod agents. Data will also be used to identify biological attributes that can be manipulated with biological control agents to affect control.