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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Lauderdale, Florida » Invasive Plant Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #444302

Research Project: Evaluation of the Brazilian Pepper Biological Control Agents

Location: Invasive Plant Research Laboratory

Project Number: 6032-22000-013-114-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 30, 2023

The primary purpose of this project is to reduce populations of the aggressive invasive weed, Brazilian peppertree by the development of a newly approved biological control agent. This environmentally safe, cost-effective, and sustainable means of weed control will be accomplished with the mass production, distribution, and evaluation of the approved thrips, Pseudophilothrips ichini. Methods will be developed to evaluate the impact of the thrips on the target weed.

To assess Brazilian peppertree responses to the thrips biological control, a common garden experiment across a latitudinal gradient from South Florida to the Florida panhandle will be utilized. At each of five field site, Brazilian peppertree plants from multiple genetic lineages (identified as haplotype A, B, and hybrids consisting of varying genetics from each origin) will be planted together in a blocked, randomized, and replicated common garden experiment. Half of the plants will be exposed to the thrips biological control agent. Plant genetics will be determined to haplotype and hybrid.