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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #437869

Research Project: Systematics and Biology of Agriculturally Important Wasps

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-317-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2025

Objective:
Objective 1: Conduct research, using genomic and morphological data, on the hymenopteran superfamilies Cynipoidea, Chalcidoidea, Ichneumonoidea, and Platygastroidea by generating revised classifications, phylogenies, species concepts, natural history data and identification tools for these wasps. Coordinate all information generated to benefit all stakeholders, both nationally and internationally. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A and 3B] Objective 2: Curate and increase through fieldwork major segments of the U.S. National Insect Collection to be used for morphological and molecular research by U.S. scientists and stakeholders worldwide. This singular collection is a dynamic database geared toward research, which, in turn, enhances insect diagnostic capacity. Objective 3: Provide accurate and rapid identifications of Hymenoptera for APHIS PPQ, ARS researchers, and stakeholders across the United States. This necessarily depends heavily on generation of novel research products and ongoing enhancement of the National Insect Collection. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A and 3B]

Approach:
Parasitoid and phytophagous wasps (Hymenoptera) are a species-rich and biologically diverse group of insects critical to managing pests of agriculture and natural resources. Of the various types of natural enemies, parasitoid wasps are most frequently used to control pest insects. Phytophagous wasps include plant pests and species used to control weeds. We propose to acquire and analyze morphological and molecular character data (and other biosystematic and natural history data) for beneficial and pest chalcidoid, ichneumonoid, and cynipoid wasps to (1) discover and describe new taxa, as well as discover and report new natural history data; (2) generate phylogenies to estimate evolutionary relationships and dates of divergence for lineages, and predic host range for species; (3) propose new taxonomic concepts based on hypotheses of evolutionary relationships and make corresponding nomenclatural changes; (4) redescribe taxa to reflect changes in how they are defined or report new diagnostic character states; and (5) develop tools for identifying taxa. The aforementioned will be generated through phylogenomic research on Chalcidoidea, Ichneumonoidea, Ceraphronoidea, Platygastroidea and Cynipoidea, resulted in revised classifications and species delimitations. We also propose to (1) increase access to the National Insect Collection through digitizing the Hymenoptera type collection and providing that data online, as well as the Hymenoptera ethanol collection; (2) provide authoritative identifications of hymenopterans for USDA-ARS, USDA-APHIS, and other state and federal researchers and action agencies; and (3) curate selected wasp groups in the National Insect Collection (NIC) at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (NMNH).