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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Invasive Species and Pollinator Health » Research » Research Project #437106

Research Project: Determination of the Origin of Invasive Common Ice Plants and Identification of Biological Control Agents in the Mediterranean Basin

Location: Invasive Species and Pollinator Health

Project Number: 2030-22000-031-06-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: Feb 28, 2021

Objective:
1. The Cooperator will sample crystalline ice plant (M. crystallinum and M. nodiflorum) in the Mediterranean Basin (Italy to Jordan as well as Tunisia and Morocco, as allowed/possible under pandemic or other travel restrictions). 2. The Cooperator will examine sampled field sites for signs of feeding damage by insects and collect specimens for identification. 3. The Cooperator will prepare and ship samples of ice plants to another Cooperator in South Africa for genetic analyses. 4. Upon request from ARS, the Cooperator will collect live specimens of candidate biological control agents for preliminary studies of biological life cycle in damage in the Cooperator's laboratory. 5. Upon request by ARS, the Cooperator will ship live specimens of candidate biological control agents to the USDA-ARS Invasive Species and Pollinator Health Quarantine Facility in Albany, California.

Approach:
The Cooperator will travel within Italy and the Mediterranean Basin to sample populations of Mesembryanthemum crystallinum and M.esembryanthemum nodiflorum, and at least 15 shoot tip samples will be collected from each site. The samples will be dried in silica gel and packed for storage and shipping in coin envelopes. While collecting plant samples, the Cooperator will take note of insect herbivores causing significant damage, will collect and preserve specimens, and will send specimens to regional experts for identification. The Cooperator will ship dried plant samples to another cooperating scientist in South Africa for genetic analyses. Based on a request from ARS, the Cooperator will return to one or more field sites to collect live specimens of damaging insect herbivores, and will import these specimens as needed into the Cooperator's laboratory in Italy for preliminary investigations of their biology and damage caused on ice plants propagated in the Cooperator's facilities. If the insect herbivores appear promising based on ease of rearing, damage cased on ice plants, and literature information on host range, the Cooperator will ship live specimens to the USDA-ARS in Albany, California for further evaluation.