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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Chemistry Research » Research » Research Project #439278

Research Project: Chemical Communications of Plants, Insects, Microbes, and Nematodes

Location: Chemistry Research

Project Number: 6036-22430-001-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 9, 2020
End Date: Oct 8, 2025

Objective:
Objective 1: Investigate semiochemicals of agricultural plant-insect-microbe interactions, with emphasis on mites, weevils, leaffooted bugs, and fruit flies; and, volatile biomarkers from insect or microbe infestations of agricultural products. Objective 2: Collect, analyze, and identify semiochemicals of pollinator pest-host and nematode-plant-microbe interactions, including varroa mites, hive beetles, entomopathogenic nematodes, or associated soil/root microbes. Objective 3: Survey floral nectar microorganisms occurring in flowering crops and determine their impacts on nectar chemistry, pathogen loads, and pollinator affinity.

Approach:
Investigate the chemical communications of agricultural plant-insect-microbe systems, such as those involving mites, weevils, leaffooted bugs, and fruit flies, as well as entomopathogenic nematodes and their associated soil/root microbes. This work will also include investigating how pheromones and multitrophic signaling can be utilized for effective control of pest organisms. Provide new or improved biological, behavioral, or cultural control methods to reduce agricultural reliance on broad spectrum chemistries. To address the ever-changing abiotic stressors, will provide flexible pest management tools for agricultural ecosystems, including those that protect plant-pollinator habitats or hosts. Will address these pollinator issues by identifying semiochemicals of pollinator pest-hosts, including varroa mites and hive beetles, and providing cost-effective, environmentally safe pest management strategies. This research will utilize numerous interactive laboratory- and field-based bioassays with insects, mites, microbes, nematodes, and plants, as well as purified biochemicals and other organisms. Isolation and identification of new bioactive chemicals that mediate arthropod and nematode behaviors and other inter-organismal interactions will be achieved using a combination of approaches including HPLC, LC-MS, preparative flash chromatography, GC-MS, FT-IR, NMR, micro-degradation, and synthesis where applicable. Major target insects for this research will include those listed above, with other target insects selected as needed during progression of the project.