Several research projects in the area of biological control or biologically based pest management were funded last year by the USDA. These grants are for 2 or 3 years, so results will not be available for a while. Some of the many projects are summarized here [information provided by Cooperative States Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES)].
Genetics of Host Use in an Oligophagous Parasitoid, Diaeretiella rapae
Awarded to M. Antolin, Colorado State University
To study the genetic basis of host use in this parasitoid of many aphid species, particularly Russian wheat aphid and cabbage aphid, to determine which traits (hunting behavior or survival) are responsible for differences in performance on the two aphid hosts.
Wolbachia Infections in Mosquitoes as an Applied Tool for Modifying Natural Populations
Awarded to S. Dobson, University of Kentucky
To evaluate the potential of the intracellular bacteria Wolbachia (which induces cytoplasmic incompatibility, rendering male mosquitoes impotent) to modify populations of the imported Asian tiger mosquito and develop techniques to apply strategies aimed at population reduction or population replacement.
Improving Tolerance to UV-B of an Insect-biocontrol Fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae
Awarded to D. Roberts and A. Anderson, Utah State University
To determine the action of UV-B radiation on survivability of fungal spores and investigate how the fungus responds to radiation. Future genetic improvement of the fungus should improve field performance of not only Metarhizium, but other microbials as well.
Integrated Biological Control of Tomato Viruses and Nematodes
Awarded to J. W. Kloepper et al., Auburn University
Integrating the use of strains of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria and chitin as a model organic amendment is expected to enhance the control effects of each in a management system for nematodes and viruses of tomato.
Field Release of Phorid Flies for Classical Biocontrol of Imported Fire Ants
Awarded to S. D. Porter, USDA, Gainesville, FL
Will monitor imported fire ant and parasitic phorid fly populations, and measure fly dispersal rates to determine how these flies are suppressing fire ant populations, and how many release sites will be necessary to achieve results in a specified time period. It is not expected that these flies will eradicate imported fire ants, but should shift the ecological balance in favor of native ants.
Conservation Biological Control in Ornamental Landscapes
Awarded to L. Hanks, University of Illinois and C. Sadof, Purdue University
Do flowering plants indeed foster natural enemies and encourage suppression of plant-feeding pests? This research will examine the role of flowering plants in ornamental landscapes by varying the density of four species of flowering plants that provide nectar and pollen for natural enemies and estimating the abundance of natural enemies and mortality rates of the pests over a two year period.
Pollen and Phytoseiid Diet Specialization in Biological Control of Thrips
Awarded to R. Van Driesche, University of Massachusetts
Will examine how species of predatory mites that also feed on pollen are affected when greenhouse crops are treated with suitable pollen. The goal is to identify the species (of 8 to be tested) that responds most strongly to pollen applications and to measure its impact on their total feeding on thrips. Guidelines will be developed to help growers use mites for biocontrol of thrips.
Development of a Forecasting Model to Optimize Biological Control of Plant Disease
Awarded to K. Johnson and V. Stockwell, Oregon State University
To develop a model that will identify periods favorable for the introduction of bacterial biocontrol agents of fireblight into apple and pear orchards. Extended weather forecasts and a regional, internet-based delivery system will be utilized to provide lead-time required to establish bacterial agents in blossoms prior to a period of high disease risk.
Genetic Improvement of Biocontrol Agents to Manage Soil-borne Plant Pathogens
Awarded to C. Kenerly and C. Howell, Texas A&M University
To provide an understanding of what genes are most important in the biocontrol of seedling pathogens and to produce superior strains of Trichoderma virens. Several strains of the fungus will be assessed or many traits including the ability to grow on roots, produce hydrolytic enzymes, protect seedlings from pathogen attack and induce plant defense compounds.
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