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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Systematics of Parasitic and Herbivorous Wasps of Agricultural Importance

Location: Systematic Entomology

Project Number: 1245-22000-265-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 01, 2010
End Date: Sep 30, 2015

Objective:
ARS is interested in performing research on the systematics and natural history of parasitic and herbivorous wasps to discover and describe new beneficial and pest species, facilitate their identification, understand and predict their impact on agricultural commodities and products, and disseminate biosystematic information on them to an international clientele. This Project Plan has five objectives that relate directly to this: (1) Evaluate and revise the Neotropical genera (~40) of Eurytomidae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea), compile diagnostics and images for an identification key, and write descriptions of new taxa; (2) Document and analyze the world species (~20) of Symphya (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), write descriptions of new species, compile diagnostics and images for an identification key, and infer a phylogeny; (3) Document and analyze the world species (~80) of Diglyphosematini (Cynipoidea: Figitidae), write descriptions of new species, compile diagnostics and images for an identification key, and infer a phylogeny; (4) Develop web-accessible databases of natural history information and identification keys for parasitic and herbivorous wasps, identify hymenopterans for USDA-ARS, USDA-APHIS, and other state and federal researchers and action agencies, and manage and provide access to parasitic and herbivorous wasps in the National Insect Collection at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History (NMNH); and (5) Discover, describe, and prepare identification aids for parasitic wasps attacking stem-feeding insects in wheat in North America.

Approach:
ARS will use the following methods for this research: High resolution digital images will be used to construct digital multi-entry taxonomic keys that can be viewed on the world wide web or cd-rom; DNA sequencing will be developed and employed for cryptic species identification; natural history collections will be visited and collaborations developed with other researchers to acquire wasp specimens; sampling in the field may occur to obtain wasp specimens and discover host plant-host-parasitoid relationships; morphological data will be acquired and analyzed from specimens through light and electron microscopy; genomic data will be acquired and analyzed from specimens through DNA extraction, amplification, and sequencing; matrices of morphological and molecular data will be compiled and analyzed to generate descriptions for wasp groups and species, hypotheses of evolutionary relationships, and identification tools (e.g., interactive keys); type specimens will be examined to correctly assign names to wasp groups and species; diagnostic characters will be illustrated through light and electron microscopy; biosystematic information will be compiled (e.g., diagnostic data, images, host use) and delivered to customers via open-access websites on the Internet. Identifications and biosystematic information for hymenopterans will be delivered to customers such as USDA-ARS, USDA-APHIS, and other state and federal researchers and action agencies using available literature and through comparison with specimens in the National Insect Collection.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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