The USDA-ARS National Biological Control Laboratory (NBCL) is located at the Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center (JWDSRC) in Stoneville, Mississippi. The NBCL provides an interdisciplinary team of scientists with facilities for basic and applied research towards developing practical methods of mass propagation, storage, delivery of beneficial organisms, targeted release strategies for integrated pest management, and an APHIS-approved facility for classical biocontrol research on classical biocontrol of invasive alien pest insects and weeds. Scientists housed in the NBCL are from two research units: Biological Control of Pests Research Unit and Southern Insect Management Research Unit.NBCL is the first facility in the world to have the combination of scientific specializations for fully integrated research in biocontrol technology.
Only organisms that have been approved by Federal and State officials for release in the United States will be propagated and studied there. The use and encouragement of beneficial organisms to fight pests is a powerful and economical part of integrated pest management. But biocontrol agents often number too few to be effective. Developing the industry that provides beneficial predators, parasites, and microbes for augmenting beneficial numbers will improve our battle against agricultural and urban pests. To foster this industry, USDA has built this uniquely integrated facility where researchers will develop methods for propagating, storing and actively using beneficial organisms. The Stoneville Research Quarantine Facility adds a very important addition to the biological control capability of NBCL.
The 53,000 sq. ft. NBCL facility includes separate wings for work on macroorganisms and microorganisms. The wings are designed to prevent accidental escape of the microorganisms and contamination and to facilitate interaction among researchers.
The research area is separated from the mass culture area by an airlock/shower. This area includes a room for media preparation, and separate rooms for fermentors and bioreactors, with computer control of all processes located in rooms with window viewing access.
The Insect Wing is compartmentalized and progresses from office area to insect research laboratories to multi-species rearing of insects to the Pilot Plant area, which is dedicated to private sector involvement.
There are eight walk-in insect rearing rooms with the capability to closely monitor and control temperature, relative humidity control, and lighting. There is an extensive food preparation area, which includes the capability of customizing many diets using the diet mixing room, the diet preparation room and the form-fill-seal food packaging machine.
The Microbial Wing is compartmented and progresses from offices to microbial research, to microbial mass culture to grow-out rooms to harvest areas, to the Pilot Plant area. The microbial research area consists of six individual laboratory rooms that minimize the potential of cross contamination of product. This area also contains a central location for joint use equipment, and a separate room to contain sterilization equipment.
In addition to the research labs, space is provided for two Pilot Plants (2,500 sq. ft. and 5,000 sq. ft.). These plants will be used in cooperation with private organizations to test the practical application of propagation techniques and to develop commercial production.
The Mid-Delta region contains many private research and development agrochemical and seed companies. NBCL helps to stimulate further increase in local agricultural industries. The ARS Program is partnered with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) Program.
Additional NBCL laboratory and office space is located in the adjacent Stoneville Research Quarantine Facility (SQRF). This APHIS/MS State approved facility consists of 3,400 sq. ft. of quarantine space, 2,600 sq. ft. of non-quarantine workspace, and 1,200 sq. ft of equipment space. Two quarantine greenhouses greatly expand capability. Many of our worst pests are invasive species from other countries. The SRQF allows for the importation, evaluation, and release of co-evolved biocontrol agents from the pests' site of origin, as well as research to genetically improve beneficial organisms.