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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Chemistry Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384014

Research Project: Chemical Communications of Plants, Insects, Microbes, and Nematodes

Location: Chemistry Research

Title: Using Chemical Ecology to Enhance Weed Biological Control

item Gaffke, Alexander
item Alborn, Hans
item DUDLEY, TOM - University Of California
item BEAN, DANIEL - Colorado Department Of Agriculture

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/30/2021
Publication Date: 8/3/2021
Citation: Gaffke, A.M., Alborn, H.T., Dudley, T.L., Bean, D.W. 2021. Using chemical ecology to enhance weed biological control. Insects. 8:695.

Interpretive Summary: The use of insects to control invasive weeds is a critical component of agricultural pest management. An insect for this type of use is called a biological control agent. Many weed biological control programs have proven to be safe and highly effective at providing long-term low-cost control. However, weed biological control could still be further improved and widened through the incorporation of other scientific disciplines such as chemical ecology. Chemical ecology is the study of chemical interactions between organisms and the environment. In this paper, a USDA-ARS chemical ecologist at the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, FL in collaboration with weed biological control researchers at the University of California and Colorado Department of Agriculture, use ongoing research as a basis to discuss the importance of multidisciplinary collaborations and integrating of the fields of weed biological control and chemical ecology to improve the success of weed biological control programs. Efficient and non-toxic methods for weed control helps maintain a healthy crop environment for U.S. agricultural commodities.

Technical Abstract: In agricultural systems, chemical ecology and the use of semiochemicals have become critical components of integrated pest management. In contrast, semiochemicals are rarely used in management of insects used in weed biological control. The categories of semiochemicals that can be used include sex pheromones, aggregation pheromones and plant volatiles used as attractants as well as repellents. Here we describe successful cases of such utilizing to advocate for increased use of chemical ecology principles in the implementation of weed biocontrol. We describe and discuss the use of semiochemicals in release, monitoring and manipulation of weed biocontrol agent populations. The potential for more widespread adoption and successful implementation of semiochemicals justifies multidisciplinary collaborations and increased research on how semiochemicals can be utilized in weed biocontrol programs.