Greg Knue, Mentor
Using the electric pipetaid to draw fluid for use in the centrifuge tube.
This summer Kevin Thomas worked on a project that attempted to isolate a virus that was previously known to infect the red imported fire ant. Both naturally discovered and lab raised ant colonies were examined for traces of the elusive virus, which may one day be employed in efforts to control wild fire ant populations. Colonies were first blended in a blender with water, then strained, and then subjected twice to the centrifuge to separate component parts of the ants. The resulting matter was placed in the electron microscope to look for the virus.
Removing the centrifuge tubes containing the pellets that resulted from 30 minutes of processing in the centrifuge at 11,000 RPM. The pellets will later be resuspended in a solution of water and Ludox, and placed back into the centrifuge, at 15,000 RPM, for 20 minutes.
A close up look at the pellets containing the fire ant particles.
Biological Control of Fire Ants: Virus Research
In the 1940's the Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) was accidentally introduced into the USA. The fire ants spread and now cover over 320 million acres in the US. The USDA-ARS has been conducting research for many years to control the Red Imported Fire Ant. An area that has recently shown promise is the use of biological controls. Two promising biological controls have already been found and are been used against the fire ants. They are phorid flies (Pseudacteon spp.) and a protozoan pathogen (Thelohania solenopsae). Another important pathogen that probably exists in fire ants is viruses. If we find one, we can use it to better control fire ants.