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Research Project: Biological Control of Invasive Weeds from Eurasia and Africa

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Title: Eriophyid mites and weed biological control: does every silver lining have a cloud?

item WEYL, PHILIP - Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International (CABI) - Switzerland
item CRISTOFARO, MASSIMO - Enea Casaccia Research Center
item Smith, Lincoln
item SCHAFFNER, URS - Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International (CABI) - Switzerland
item VIDOVIC, BILJANA - University Of Belgrade
item PETANOVIC, RADMILA - University Of Belgrade
item MARINI, FRANCESCA - Bbca-Onlus, Italy
item STUTZ, SONJA - Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau International (CABI)

Submitted to: International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/12/2018
Publication Date: 8/23/2019
Citation: Weyl, P., Cristofaro, M., Smith, L., Schaffner, U., Vidovic, B., Petanovic, R., Marini, F., Stutz, S. 2019. Eriophyid mites and weed biological control: does every silver lining have a cloud?. XV International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, Engelberg, Switzerland. 27-31 August 2018, pp. 9-11.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Eriophyid mites are gaining popularity in research on prospective agents for biological control of weeds based on a number of assumptions, including high host specificity, short life cycles and high potential impact. Eriophyid mites are among the smallest plant feeders (100-200µm). These tiny herbivores are characterised by having an intimate relationship with their hosts, and about 80% of currently known species are reportedly associated in nature with a single host. However, little is known about the basic biology and life history of eriophyid mites, which is necessary for making informed decisions on determining their suitability as biological control agents. Specific challenges commonly encountered include: 1) extremely high level of host specificity, often at the intraspecific level; 2) lower level of host specificity shown under laboratory experimental conditions; 3) measuring impact under experimental conditions; 4) identifying potential effects of predation on vagrant vs. gall-forming species; 5) recognising possible abiotic limiting factors, e.g. soil characteristics and climate; 6) understanding basic life history traits, such as, overwintering requirements, dispersal capabilities and the relationship with annual vs. perennial host plants. We discuss these challenges and use specific examples of how we have tried to manage addressing them. We also identify knowledge gaps and future research questions important for developing eriophyid mites as safe effective agents for classical biological control of weeds.