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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #439043

Research Project: Preparing for release of the Asian leaf beetle, Lilioceris egena, a biological control of air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) in Florida

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Project Number: 6032-22000-013-71-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 30, 2021

Objectives are to (1) maintain colonies of Chinese and Nepalese Lilioceris egena for the duration of the regulatory process so as to have insects to either conduct additional tests if requested by the regulatory agencies, or to initiate field releases following approval, or both; and (2) maintain cultures of Dioscoreaceae plants, many of which have been difficult to obtain, for use in post-release, field-based ecological host range studies.

Objective 1: Multiple colonies (two of insects derived from China, two of insects derived from Nepal) are being maintained in order to reduce the possibility of losing of the entire quarantine population, thereby avoiding delaying releases until new overseas collections and testing could be done . Objective 2: Open-field host-specificity testing helps describe the ecological, or realized, host range of an insect which is frequently more restrictive than the physiological host range because it incorporates host searching and recognition behaviors that are bypassed in laboratory-based host range trials. The most important species to test in ecological host range trials generally are congeners of the target weed. So we will maintain a half-dozen or so plants of each Dioscorea spp. currently in our collection, to facilitate conducting open-field (ecological) host range trials post-release.