Evaluating the Use of Nuclear Techniques for the Colonization and Production of Natural Enemies of Agricultural Insect Pests

Objective:

To evaluate the use of nuclear techniques for the colonization and production of natural enemies of agricultural insect pests.

Activities:

Nuclear techniques have considerable potential for various uses in biological control. These applications should provide significant benefits to producing biological control agents and for using them to managing pests, facilitating trade, and protecting the environment. The CRP focused on developing potential applications of nuclear techniques in biological control as:

  • to provide a non-destructive means for pasteurization/ sterilization of artificial diets. Using ionizing radiation to destroy micro-organisms in artificial media provides a viable method to sterilize media without the damaging effects associated with heat treatment, and allows sterilization to be accomplished after diet dispensing and packaging ("terminal sterilization").
  • to provide non-reproductive supplemental hosts/prey for parasitoids and predator to build-up naturally occurring or augmentatively released natural enemies early in the season when pest populations are low. Non-parasitized hosts would be sterile, even further contributing to suppress the pest population.
  • to sterile pests/hosts as food during commercial shipment of entomophagous insects/mites, thereby assuring quality during transport and that no new pest or pest race is introduced into the regions or countries of customers. Irradiation would also help fulfilling quarantine regulations by avoiding the transport of other hitchhiking pests.
  • to improve the suitability of natural or factitious hosts/prey for use in parasitoid/predator mass rearing, by helping for example to overcome host resistance such as encapsulation of parasitoids. Radiation of hosts during mass rearing would also avoid the emergence of fertile adults of the pest, or the need for costly procedures to separate parasitized from non-parasitized insects.
  • to reproductively sterilize exotic beneficial insects that are promising candidates for classical biological control, thus enabling safe field testing of their host or prey specificity on weeds or insect pests. In view that there are many reported cases of natural enemies becoming pests, and the fact that promising natural enemies are eventually not released because doubts persist as to their specificity after detailed assessments under quarantine conditions, safe field testing of specificity is a major use of ionizing radiation not exploited to date.

Participants:

Eleven Contract Holders from Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Slovakia Republic, Syria and Turkey; three Agreement Holders from Austria and USA (2) and three Observers from Brazil, Pakistan and USA.

Reports: