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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Research Project #432395

Research Project: Discovery and Evaluation of Biological Control Agents of Invasive Annual Grasses

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Project Number: 2060-22000-024-09-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2016
End Date: Mar 31, 2021

Objective:
Discovery and development of effective biological control agents and other novel control strategies for medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae), cheatgrass (Anisantha tectorum) and red brome (A. rubens), three annual grass species of Eurasian origin that are invasive in the western USA.

Approach:
Eriophyid mites and other natural enemies collected from medusahead, cheatgrass and red brome during native-range field surveys will be subjected to taxonomic, genetic, and biological studies, including the description of new species when applicable and evaluation of the host range and physiological impact of these natural enemies, with regard to the targeted weeds, in order to assess their suitability as classical biological control agents. PCR-based genetic markers for the three targeted grass species will be utilized to describe relationships between native and invasive populations to understand weed invasion dynamics and to identify putative native-range source regions for invasive weed populations. Mature, green medusahead plants will be collected and provided to US collaborators in order to compare endophytic mycoflora between the native and invaded ranges of this target weed and to investigate possible roles of endophytes in the invasion ecology of this grass. Selected target grass species populations will be observed throughout their annual life cycles to identify and compare important mortality trends between the native and invaded ranges.