Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #325568

Research Project: Invasive Ant Biology and Control

Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research

Title: Development of a lateral flow immunoassay for rapid field detection of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Author
item Valles, Steven
item Strong, Charles - Chuck
item Callcott, Anne-marie - Animal And Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Submitted to: Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/6/2016
Publication Date: 4/26/2016
Citation: Valles, S.M., Strong, C.A., Callcott, A.A. 2016. Development of a lateral flow immunoassay for rapid field detection of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry. 408(17):4693-4703.

Interpretive Summary: The red imported fire ant was introduced into the United States in the 1930s and currently infests about 300 million acres. It causes approximately $6 billion in damage annually in livestock and agricultural production and poses a serious threat to human health. USDA-APHIS has imposed a quarantine to help limit the spread of the fire ant in the United States. Unfortunately, there remains an acute need for a rapid, field portable method for the identification of these ants to limit their spread. USDA-ARS scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (Gainesville, FL) and USDA-APHIS (Biloxi, MS) have developed novel monoclonal antibodies that specifically bind a protein of the fire ant venom. Using these antibodies they developed a lateral flow immunoassay that provides a rapid and portable method for the identification of Solenopsis invicta imported fire ants. This Solenopsis invicta device provides a new tool for regulatory agencies in the United States to enforce quarantine protocols and limit the spread of this invasive ant.

Technical Abstract: The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is an aggressive, highly invasive pest ant species from South America that has been introduced into North America, Asia and Australia. Quarantine efforts have been imposed in the United States to minimize the spread of the ant. There remains an acute need for a rapid field portable method for the identification of these ants to limit their spread. In this report, we describe two novel monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that specifically bind the Solenopsis invicta venom protein 2 (Soli2) produced by these ants. Using these mAbs we developed a lateral flow immunoassay (LFA) that provides a rapid and portable method for the identification of Solenopsis invicta ants. This LFA was validated against purified Soli2 and 33 unique ant species (representing 15% of the known species in Florida) and only S. invicta and the S. invicta/richteri hybrid produced a positive result. These mAbs were selective to Soli2 and did not bind to congeneric ants (i.e., S. geminata or S. richteri) known to produce a Soli2 venom homolog. This Solenopsis invicta LFA device provides a new tool for regulatory agencies in the United States to enforce quarantine protocols and limit the spread of this invasive ant.