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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Biologically-Based Technologies for Management of Crop Insect Pests in Local and Areawide Programs

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

Project Number: 6615-22000-025-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Dec 27, 2010
End Date: Dec 26, 2015

Objective:
1. Genetics: Identify developmentally significant genes from whole genome and transcriptome sequencing projects that may be targeted or manipulated in transgenic and nontransgenic insect strains for biological control. Test conditional lethal systems using cell death genes and microRNAs targeted to embryos and vital processes in tephritids and lepidopterans and develop germ-line transformation for the cactus moth and Asian citrus psyllid. 2. Detection and attraction: Develop chemical and acoustic detection and attraction systems for pest species and natural enemies: specifically develop trapping systems using floral-derived volatiles to monitor and/or eliminate pest populations and monitor dispersal of augmented parasitoids, detect acoustic signals produced by cryptic/hidden pests for targeted control, and improve detection efficiency through automation. 3. Biological control: Develop strategies for use of parasitoids and predators in IPM of insect pests through behavioral, ecological and physiological studies of their feeding, mating,dispersal and oviposition: Specifically target conservation biological control on overwintering reservoirs of migratory fall army worm and other pests; develop thelytokous strains of fruit fly parasitoids for augmentative biological control, and develop Asian citrus psyllid diets that will facilitate the mass-production of hosts for mass-rearing parasitoids for augmentative parasitoid releases and other forms of biologically-based control; and develop predictive models of pest migration that incorporate climate-change and facilitate the targeting of vulnerable populations.

Approach:
New biocontrol strategies will be based on transgenic strains that confer conditional lethality, so that insects can be mass reared under permissive laboratory conditions, while their offspring die in the field under nonpermissive conditions. The tetracycline-suppression (tet-off) embryonic conditional lethality system consists of an embryonic driver construct and a lethality inducing effector construct both integrated by piggyBac transposition into a host genome. To develop RNA inhibition (RNAi) strategies for the conditional genetic constructs gene homologues will be identified, then inhibitory FAW RNAi constructs will be incorporation in artificial media. Recombinants expressing these constructs wiil be tested and effective constructs introduced. To precisely target populations of hidden/cryptic pests distinctive spectral and temporal patterns of acoustic signals will be identified. Insect detectability will be optimized by constructing customized attachments or waveguides connecting the sensors to the substrates. Automated systems can be developed that remotely detect, identify, and count specific pests based on the spectral and temporal patterns of signals. An automated system for trapping C. capitata will consist of a lure and a microphone connected to a signal acquisition andanalysis system attached by cable or wireless to a computer. To develop food/host based attractants for opiine braconid fruit fly parasitoids to monitor augmentative releases and to stimulate oviposition volatiles produced by fruit fly larvae, infested fruits and nectar-sourcesare parasitoids to locate hosts, host-habitats and adult food will be identified and formulated into appropriate lures and additives. To develop floral attractants and pheromones for monitoring and/or control of adult lepidopterous pests research will concentrate on phenylacetaldehyde (PAA) plus ß-myrcene, cis-jasmone, benzyl acetate and additional candidate identified by field surveys. Lures will be first tested in flight tunnels and then in the field. To develop thelytokous strains of fruit fly parasitoids for augmentative biological control, Wolbachia-infected parasitoid surveys will be based on the theory that asexual populations are more persistent in biologically less diverse environments. To develop improved control strategies for lepidopteran pests that recruit natural enemies, combinations of resistant crops and plants supporting natural enemies will be compared in the field using sentinel plants and a split plot arrangement of treatments. To predict the spatial and temporal shifts in infestations of migratory noctuid pests that result from climate change and to target controls, genetic markers will be used to identify source populations from which migratory pathways can be derived, and historical changes in these pathways explained with meteorological and climatic data.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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