Welcome to our fall edition of the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab newsletter. We’ve been very busy and productive over the last few months and I’m excited to share with you some of what we’ve done.
Last June, we conducted our sixth workshop on Trichoderma, this time at the Royal Agriculture University in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Then on July 7-8th, we held our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Program Planning Committee (PPC) meetings here at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Dr. Lawrence Datnoff from Louisiana State University and Dr. George Norton from Virginia Tech were selected as Chairs of TAC and PPC, respectively.
In August, our Associate Director Dr. Amer Fayad, along with Dr. Naidu Rayapati of Washington State University, led a workshop on virus and plant diseases in Cambodia. At the same time, also in Cambodia, Dr. Jon Einsenback from Virginia Tech conducted nematode surveys for our vegetable and rice projects. And then in September I went to Cambodia to conduct two Tuta absoluta awareness workshops, one in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Reap, in preparation for an unfortunate but likely invasion of the pest. In May, our collaborators in Nepal and Bangladesh reported invasion of Tuta absoluta in their countries, so we believe that it will continue to spread through Asia.
Also in September, we presented our web portal that we developed with the Virginia Tech Biocomplexity Institute to the Innovation Lab council in Washington, D.C. And at the end of the month, we went to the International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, Florida, where we conducted two symposia: one on IPM components and packages for tropical crops and a second on Tuta absoluta.
Then in October, IPM IL Management Entity met with the Directors of the Regional IPM Centers in the U.S. And just last week, I spoke at the Virginia Tech Biocomplexity Institute’s Research Symposium on a panel entitled: From Molecules to Policy – Translating Fundamental Discovery for the Benefit of Humanity.
One of our major achievements of the past few months is the discovery that Trichogrammatoidea armigera, an egg parasitoid that we already knew parasitizes the pearl millet headminer, was shown to also parasitize the pearl millet stemborer in Niger! We were able to multiply it in the laboratory on the eggs of the Indian meal moth, Corcyra cephalonica, and were then able infect pearl millet stemborer eggs. This work was carried out in Niger by Dr. Malick Ba, and Mr. Laouali Karimoune of ICRISAT-Niamey and Mr. Amadou Laouali of INRA. This is a collaborative project with the Sorghum and Millet Innovation Lab. Currently, we are working on mass multiplication of the egg parasitoid and field releasing it for control of pearl millet stemborer and pearl millet headminer.
And I’m very proud to say that after 10 years of hard work, we have experienced a major breakthrough on our Biological Control of the Invasive Weed Parthenium project, led by Dr. Wondi Mersie of Virginia State University. One of Parthenium’s natural enemies, the beetle Zygogramma bicolorata, has established in the field in Ethiopia and is successfully controlling the of the invasive weed, which is a native of Mexico spreading rapidly in Eastern Africa.
As we go into our new fiscal year, we have a lot to look forward to. Our projects are starting to have their planning meetings and Dr. Fayad and I are excited to travel to the project countries and see the great work our collaborators have planned. I am also going to Bangladesh in December to hold another Tuta absoluta awareness workshop, and we are also looking forward to attending the “International Conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment, and Impacts on Livelihood” in January that our Climate Change and Biodiversity in Nepal project organized. And I’d also like to welcome a new member to our team – Dr. Jaspreet Sidhu, who is joining us from Louisiana State University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate.
Please read on to learn more about our projects and our upcoming work.