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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #436502

Research Project: Biological Control of Invasive Weeds and Insect Pests

Location: European Biological Control Laboratory

Project Number: 0212-22000-028-09-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

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

Objective:
1) Discover prospective biological control agents of invasive weeds and arthropod pests originating from Europe, Asia and Africa, and 2) Conduct experiments to evaluate the host plant specificity and potential efficacy of the more promising species. Weed targets may include medusahead, yellow starthistle, Russian thistle, Scotch thistle, dyer's woad, Russian olive, rush skeletonweed, and giant reed as well as other targets that may be selected.

Approach:
Explorations will be conducted at different seasons to regions where the target plants are known to occur to collect arthropods and pathogens likely to be host-specific. Specimens will be identified by qualified taxonomists, and phylogenetic analysis of DNA will be done when appropriate. Prospective agents will be tested in choice or no-choice experiments to determine if they feed, oviposit, or develop on representative nontarget plants that are likely to be at risk of attack. Further tests under laboratory or field conditions will be conducted when appropriate. Populations of promising agents will be sent to quarantine laboratories in the U.S. to conduct further tests on the most promising agents. If such transfer is deemed appropriate, a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) will be developed for the transfer. A similar approach will be used to find parasites or predators of arthropod pests.