Biological Control in Pest Management Systems of Plants (FY 2012)
Biological control continues to be proven one of the most effective, environmentally sound, and cost-effective pest management approaches used to controlling arthropod pests and weeds. Despite many advances in recent years, our practical and conceptual understanding of success and failure in applied biological control fall short of meeting certain current and future requirements. For example, in classical biological control, the rate of establishment of natural enemies is unacceptably low given the high development costs. Further research into the genetics of target pests and control organisms and the ecology of colonization is warranted. In the future, classical biological control should ideally be able to predict 1) the appropriate species (or biotype) or combination of species (and/or biotypes) to release for control of a target pest in a
given situation; and 2) the environmental impact resulting from the introduction of an exotic enemy. Direct and/or indirect nontarget impacts to plants or ecosystems from biocontrol agents need to be understood. Since 2000, regulations on natural enemy importation and introduction have been tightened by USDA APHIS PPQ, using guidelines from the North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) and the legislation governing the introduction process, all of which require researchers to provide in-depth studies complete with rigorous data on the nontarget effects of biological control agents they wish to release We use an invasive plant, C. officinale and some of its natural enemies to study how to improve the predictability of biocontrol impact and the risk of occurrence of nontarget effects. This weed biocontrol system is used as a model and we hope to develop methodologies and a
generally better understanding of natural enemy - target weed relationships that will benefit other weed biocontrol systems.