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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Insect Control and Cotton Disease Research » Research » Research Project #438857

Research Project: Novel Approaches for Management of Row Crop Pests and Continued Boll Weevil Eradication

Location: Insect Control and Cotton Disease Research

Project Number: 3091-22000-038-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jul 23, 2020
End Date: Jul 22, 2025

Objective 1: Develop improved boll weevil monitoring/detection technologies, and molecular tools to accurately and rapidly distinguish boll weevils from other weevil species and to determine the geographical association of boll weevils. Subobjective 1A: Determine feasibility of using satellite imagery for early detection of cotton fields to support boll weevil eradication programs. Subobjective 1B: Prolong attractiveness of boll weevil pheromone lures. Subobjective 1C: Develop genomic tools to accurately identify boll weevils and to determine geographical source(s) of re-infestations. Objective 2: Understand the biological processes and ecological functions of lepidopteran and piercing-sucking insects and determine the nature of their agronomic importance in cotton and other field crops. Subobjective 2A: Identify the hemipteran complex in a production area following boll weevil eradication. Subobjective 2B: Elucidate propensity for hemipteran insects to acquire, harbor, and transmit FOV race 4 and related pathogens to cotton bolls. Subobjective 2C: Evaluation of Bacillus velezensis LP16S as a potential entomopathogenic agent for stink bugs. Objective 3: Develop novel pest management techniques that include use of natural host plant volatiles. Subobjective 3A: Exploit natural plant defense traits to reduce insect pest abundance and feeding damage in cotton.

Novel and ecologically based management of field crop pests is critical for sustaining agricultural productivity/health and for reducing costs and environmental consequences associated with reliance on chemical pesticides. This project focuses on: 1) development of remote sensing techniques, pest trapping/monitoring systems, and genomic tools to rapidly and accurately detect host plant distributions, pest identity, and pest abundance; 2) improved knowledge on the transmission of plant pathogens by piercing/sucking insect pests; and 3) exploitation of host plant defense chemicals to reduce pest damage. Project objectives will be accomplished through three main research areas that lead to development of: 1) technologies to improve detection of pests and host plants; 2) improved knowledge and methods to better understand the multitrophic interactions among insect pests, plant pathogens, and host plants; and 3) novel pest management technologies and strategies that are target-specific, environmentally safe, and effective. Results of project research are expected to provide boll weevil eradication programs, producers, and crop consultants with the appropriate scientific knowledge and technologies to make effective pest management decisions with minimal environmental impact. This project combines entomological, molecular, and genomic expertise to create a research program that defines the distribution and abundance of host plants and insect pests, how insect pests transmit plant pathogens and infect target crops, and how pest activity and feeding damage can be reduced by the use of natural plant defense volatiles.