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Research Project: Using Genetic, Biotic Information in Developing a Biological Control Program for Ventenata dubia

Location: European Biological Control Laboratory

Project Number: 0212-22000-028-11-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 29, 2019
End Date: Jul 28, 2024

Objective:
The primary objective of the proposed project is to take a multidisciplinary approach to test the feasibility of using a biological control strategy in the management of Ventenata dubia (VeDu) in the Western U.S. This objective will be accomplished by achieving these specific goals: 1) Conduct exploration for biocontrol agents (e.g., insects, mites, fungal pathogens) in the native range of VeDu, including the georeferencing of all living material, and 2) Assess the introduction dynamics of VeDu in North America through the genetic analysis of native and invasive populations using enzyme electrophoresis (allozymes)

Approach:
Biological control is a long-term process that begins with field observations and collections. This process also includes the testing of the collected material, and an assessment of various biological interactions (especially non-target effects). Field collection: To achieve the specific goals of the project, we will have to visit a minimum of a dozen sites in the native range (Eurasia). Field exploration will be the main method for obtaining data on i) precise localities, ii) presence of potential natural enemies and damage, and iii) ecological data, such as enemy abundance, habitat condition. Individual seed heads from a minimum of 25 plants will be collected in the field. Fully mature, disease-free seeds are required for this analysis. At each sampling location, for each population, herbarium voucher specimens will be collected. Each record will be accompanied by GPS coordinates, collection date (to assist with timing of future collections), and a description of the population (size and density), the plantcommunity, and the abiotic conditions at the site. Mapping: Geographic maps at different spatial scales will be produced to direct foreign exploration for natural enemies, and predict the potential distribution of VeDu within the western U.S. states, and beyond. Genetic analysis: An experimental approach that has proven successful in studying invasive species includes the combined analysis of native and invasive populations within the same experimental design. Experimental analyses of both native and introduced populations can provide needed information to understand the invasionprocess, and to manage and potentially control an invasive species. For instance, such information can be used to determine whether the geographic distribution of an invasive in its new range stems from single or multiple introduction events, and whether local or regional range expansion has occurred. In addition, the combined analysis of native and introduced populations can be used to determine the geographic origins of an invasive species. Accurate determination of an invasive species’ source populations or regions can contribute to the successful search for biocontrol agents. In fact, the identification of source populations may reduce the economic cost of prospecting for agents, and may result in the development of more specific and effective biocontrol agents. In fact, the identification of source populations may reduce the economic cost of prospecting for agents, and may result in the development of more specific and effective biocontrol agents.