The Stoneville Research Quarantine Facility (SRQF), a large invasive weed and insect pest quarantine facility, was constructed in 1973 at the USDA Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center in Stoneville, Mississippi, under a special research project to study the feasibility of manipulating weed-feeding insects for biological control. In 1976, SRQF was officially approved by APHIS, PPQ to receive exotic parasitoids, pathogens, predators and weed biocontrol agents. Since then, SRQF has evolved into a center for research and service in support of classical biological control, which is importation, study, release, establishment, and evaluation of imported natural enemies for managing exotic invasive pests.
SRQF cooperates with state, federal and foreign scientists in research programs aimed at controlling some of this nation's worst agricultural pests. In 1982, SRQF officially became regional and national in its support activities. SRQF is now operated by a permanent full-time USDA ARS Quarantine Officer who is under supervision of a Research Entomologist in the Biological Control of Pests Research Unit.
SRQF consists of 316 m2 (3,400 ft2) of quarantine work space, and 242 m2 (2,600 ft2) of non-quarantine work space, and 111 m2 (1,200 ft2) of equipment space. Non-quarantine space includes offices, a laboratory, rest rooms, a storage room, and a large air-conditioned greenhouse. Quarantine space features shower and change areas, a receiving room, two large laboratories, a rest room, two greenhouses, and smaller specialty areas. Quarantine equipment includes four walk-in growth chambers, a walk-in cold chamber and freezer, several reach-in growth chambers, laminar flow hoods, and microscopes. A large pass-through autoclave is situated between quarantine and non-quarantine areas as an additional safeguard against contamination.
Federal statute requires shipments of biological material to follow established guidelines and procedures. Imported material must be screened for unwanted plant and host material, hyperparasites, and for positive identification of shipped organisms. A key function is to serve as a containment laboratory for research on possible non-target effects of candidate natural enemies. Current projects involve the screening of imported natural enemies of recently invasive pests such as the bean plataspid (kudzu bug), brown marmorated stink bug, Bagrada bug, and red-banded stink bug, as well as research on soybean rust. These projects are in collaboration with several ARS and university colleagues and cooperators in Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America.