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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #438651

Research Project: Developing Phylogenomic Resources and Rapid Identification Tools for the Study and Control of AGRILUS (BUPRESTIDAE)

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-317-015-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: Jun 30, 2025

The goals of this project are to: (1) Infer the first comprehensive evolutionary tree for the study of the biology and taxonomy of Agrilus, using cutting-edge genome-sequencing techniques; (2) Generate genomic data to facilitate DNA-based identification of Agrilus species; and (3) Synthesize novel molecular data with morphological, occurrence, and plant host data to develop tools to aid in rapid identification of Agrilus species, and predict the next serious pest that shares similar traits that may predispose some species such as EAB to become pestiferous.

NEA will sequence 1,172 Ultraconserved element (UCE) loci for 1,000 specimens representing 780 species of Agrilus, spanning the morphological and regional diversity of this genus, and all species recorded from the U.S. The newly generated sequence data, along with the rich fossil records of buprestids (which importantly includes extinct Agrilus species), will be used to infer a time-calibrated phylogeny for Agrilus. This evolutionary tree will be synthesized with plant host data derived from literature, specimen labels, and fieldwork, to reconstruct ancestral plant host conditions deeper in the tree. This will identify species that have experienced recent host-plant shifts, and study the evolution of host use in this genus. The phylogeny will also clarify species and species-group boundaries in Agrilus, greatly improving our taxonomic understanding of this genus. Using the phylogenetically informed species boundaries, NEA will construct a user-friendly, publicly accessible tool for the immediate identification of any U.S. Agrilus species. In addition to identification keys, NEA will produce an online portal with detailed profile pages for all U.S. species, synthesizing newly acquired data, including diagnostic morphological characters, images, associated molecular data, known hosts, and locality information. To allow morphological study from detailed images, species will be photographed using a Macropod imaging system. The previously-described cutting edge molecular techniques will also yield data for DNA-based identification.