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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Invasive Species and Pollinator Health » Research » Research Project #439089

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

Location: Invasive Species and Pollinator Health

Project Number: 2030-22000-033-004-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Mar 31, 2024

1. Sample crystalline ice plant (M. crystallinum and M. nodiflorum) in South Africa. 2. Examine sampled field sites for signs of feeding damage by insects, and collect specimens for identification. 3. Prepare ice plant samples from South Africa, and others shipped from California and the Mediterranean Basin, for genetic analyses, and conduct these analyses to determine point of origin of invasive ice plant in California. 4. Upon request from ARS, 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, ship live specimens of candidate biological control agents to the USDA-ARS Invasive Species and Pollinator Health Quarantine Facility in Albany, California.

The Cooperator will travel within South Africa to sample populations of Mesembryanthemum crystallinum and M.esembryanthemum nodiflorum ice plants, 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 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 extract DNA from samples collected in South Africa, as well as from samples collected by ARS in California and by another collaborator in the Mediterranean Basin, for genetic analyses. The Cooperator will conduct bioinformatic studies to determine the invasive area of origin of ice plants in California. Based on a request from ARS, the Cooperator will return to one or more field sites in South Africa to collect live specimens of damaging insect herbivores, and will maintain these specimens as needed in the Cooperator's laboratory in South Africa for preliminary investigations of their biology and damage caused on ice plants. 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.