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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research » Research » Research Project #441045

Research Project: Identification of Giant African Snail Odors to Aid Detector Dog Training

Location: Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research

Project Number: 2040-43000-018-017-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2023

1. Validate that the target group of compounds identified by APHIS PPQ S&T-Miami and ARS-Miami is present in wild snail populations. 2. Determine whether the identified giant African snail odor profile differ from other land gastropod species found in Hawaii. 3. Develop a synthetic training tool if the compounds unique to giant African snail odor profile are commercially available.

Field Collection of snails in Hilo, Hawaii: Wild snails and eggs will be obtained from three different locations known to have large numbers of snails. Field collections will be made in the early morning while the snails are still active. The sample will be brought back to the lab for immediate processing and odor collection or frozen. The same locations will be searched for invasive species known to be established in Hawaii, including Parmarion martensi and Vernicella cubensis. These gastropods are serious pests and disease carriers. The other species will be collected and processed as described for giant African snail. Mucus Sample Collection: Mucus will be collected directly in the field, prior to sunrise when they are still active. These snails will then be taken back to the laboratory and held in plastic boxes. The mucus will be collected directly from the snails and other gastropods by gently scrapping the snail foot with a glass vial. The mucus will then immediately be prepared for volatile collection or frozen. Snail odor analysis: The volatile profile of different life stages and mucus of collected mollusks will be determined using Thermal Desorption-GC-MS (Markes TD100-xr Thermal Desorption with Agilent 8890 GC and 5977B MS) equipped with non-polar DB-5MS or polar DB-Waxetr capillary columns (30 m x 0.25 mm diameter x 0.25 um film thickness). Snail/slug volatile compounds will be identified based on library matches, retention index, and also using authentic standards if commercially available. Volatile profiles of giant African snails will be compared with odor profiles of other mollusks by checking absence and existence of certain compounds among giant African snail and other mollusks and also by using principal component analysis. A mixture of the volatile compounds unique to giant African snail will be prepared for testing with canine unit.