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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 of Beetles, Flies, Moths and Wasps with an Emphasis on Agricultural Pests, Invasive Species, Biological Control Agents, and Food Security

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 1: Conduct integrative taxonomic research that incorporates adult, immature, and molecular data to develop new and improve existing classifications of agriculturally important insects, create biosystematic databases, determine host plants, and analyze phylogenetic relationships based on next-generation sequencing, comparative morphological and bioinformatics analyses, and modern illustration methods. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A and 3B; C4 PS4A and 4B] Objective 2: Generate molecular and morphological diagnostic tools that will allow stakeholders and beneficiaries (e.g. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Department of Homeland Security, state departments of agriculture, foreign and domestic biological control laboratories, researchers, and citizens worldwide) to accurately identify and rank agriculturally important insects. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A; C4 PS4A and 4B] Objective 3: Curate and expand through fieldwork and acquisitions the U. S. National Insect Collection to support morphological and molecular research by U.S. scientists and stakeholders worldwide and enhance pest insect diagnostics. [NP304, C3, PS3A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A; C4 PS4A and 4B] Objective 4: Provide expert/authoritative identifications for early detection of potentially invasive or novel insect pests intercepted by APHIS or Homeland Security personnel at U.S. ports, and generate research associated with specimens submitted by ARS researchers for biological control research with U.S. state departments of agriculture and U.S. university scientists. [NP304, C1, PS1A; C2, PS2B; C3, PS3A and 3B; C4 PS4A and 4B]

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).