Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Albany, California » Western Regional Research Center » Invasive Species and Pollinator Health » Research » Research Project #444678

Research Project: Discovery, Identification, Collection and Shipment of Biological Control Agents of Slenderleaf Ice Plant in South Africa

Location: Invasive Species and Pollinator Health

Project Number: 2030-22000-033-020-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Dec 31, 2024

1. Sample slenderleaf ice plant, Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum, in coastal southwestern and western South Africa, and examine sampled field sites for signs of feeding damage by insects as potential biocontrol agents. 2. Collect candidate biocontrol agents. 3. Rear and identify the insects in the laboratory in South Africa and make preliminary observations on their biology, host range and impact. 4. Upon request, ship one or more candidate agents to the USDA-ARS ISPH Quarantine Laboratory in Albany, California, for further evaluation.

The Cooperator will travel within South Africa to sample at least 12 field sites containing populations of Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum, slenderleaf ice plant. The Cooperator will take note of insect herbivores causing significant damage, will collect and preserve specimens, will send specimens to regional experts for identification as needed, and will use molecular techniques such as CO1 analysis to identify specimens. The Cooperator will propagate slenderleaf ice plant in the laboratory and use it to rear one or more insects as candidate biological control agents. The Cooperator will gain insights into the biology of the candidate(s) through rearing activities. The Cooperator will conduct a greenhouse-based efficacy test for one candidate agent to examine the effect of the agent on slenderleaf ice plant size and growth. The Cooperator will test the host range of at least one candidate agent on closely related plants that are native to South Africa and are introduced, naturalized ornamental plants in the US. If an insect appears promising, based on ease of rearing, damage cased on ice plants, and information on host range, the Cooperator will collect and ship live specimens to the Quarantine Laboratory at the USDA-ARS ISPH in Albany, CA for further evaluation.