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Selecting biological control agents

Experimental confirmation of host range

Testing methods

The styles of tests that can be employed are well reviewed elsewhere in BIREA. van Driesche and Reardon (2004) edited a guide to best practice for assessing the host range of predators and parasitoids. That publication is not reviewed here. Heard and Van Klinken (1998), Sheppard (1999) and Spafford-Jacob and Briese (2003) have reviewed the use of different designs for host range testing of phytophages for weed control. van Driesche and Murray (2004) have reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of the designs that can be employed in host range testing parasitoids and reached the general conclusion that as far as possible the test regime adopted should model the ecological context in which the agents will interact with potential hosts. This view is also implicit in the selection criteria suggested by Kuhlmann et al. (2006).

In the view of Babendreier et al. (2006), the purpose of host range testing is to determine the ecological host range of the natural enemy. This seems ambitious, and they acknowledge that designing tests for this purpose is difficult. An alternative view is that host range testing provides an opportunity to define the physiological or fundamental host range, and by the use of a range of test designs, to provide additional information with which to predict the likely field host range. This approach seems more likely to be successful. A test design array should take into account the following principles:

van Lenteren et al. (2006) have summarised the issues that should be considered when designing host specificity tests on arthropod natural enemies, and propose a methodology for addressing those issues. Their methodology is very clear and well-annotated, and provides a sound baseline for the development of a testing regime. However, they acknowledge that a theoretical and methodological background for such a testing regime for arthropod natural enemies is not yet mature. They summarise what information should be brought to bear on a test design:

Berndt et al. (2007) provide an example of how to develop a test design.

References

Babendreier D., Bigler F. and Kuhlmann U. (2005). Methods Used to Assess Non-target Effects of Invertebrate Biological Control Agents of Arthropod Pests. BioControl 50: 821-870.

Babendreier D., Bigler F. and Kuhlmann U. (2006). Current status and constraints in the assessment of non-target effects. Pp. 1-13 In: Environmental impact of invertebrates for biological control of arthropods methods and risk assessment, F. , F. Bigler, D. Babendreier and U. Kuhlmann (Ed.) CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK

Barratt B.I.P., Blossey B. and Hokkanen H.M.T. (2006). Post-release evaluation of non-target effects of biological control agents. Pp. 166-186 In: Environmental Impact of Arthropod Biological Control: Methods and Risk Assessment, U. Kuhlmann, F. Bigler and D. Babendreier (Ed.) CABI Bioscience, Delemont, Switzerland.

Barratt B.I.P., Ferguson C.M., McNeill M.R. and Goldson S.L. (1999). Parasitoid host specificity testing to predict host range. Pp. 70-83 In: Host specificity testing in Australasia: towards improved assays for biological control, T.M. Withers, L. Barton-Browne and J.N. Stanley (Ed.) CRC for Tropical Pest Management, Brisbane, Australia.

Berndt L.A., Mansfield S. and Withers T.M. (2007). A method for host range testing of a biological control agent for Uraba lugens. New Zealand Plant Protection 60: 286-290.

Heard T.A. and Van Klinken R.D. (1998). An analysis of test designs for host range determination of insects for biological control of weeds. Pp. 539-546 In: Proceedings of the Sixth Australasian Applied Entomological Research Conference, M.P. Zalucki, R.A.I. Drew and G.G. White (Ed.) Brisbane, University of Queensland.

Hill R.L. (1999). Minimising uncertainty - in support of no-choice tests. Pp. 1-10 In: Host specificity testing in Australasia: towards improved assays for biological control, W.T.M., L. Barton Browne and J. N. Stanley (Ed.) CRC for Tropical Pest Management, Brisbane, Australia.

Kitt J.T. and Keller M.A. (1998). Host selection by Aphidius rosae Haliday (Hym., Braconidae) with respect to assessment of host specificity in biological control. Journal of Applied Entomology 122: 57-63

Kuhlmann U., Mason P.G., Hinz H.L., Blossey B., De Clerck-Floate R.A., Dosdall L.M., McCaffrey J.P., Schwarzlaender M., Olfert O., Brodeur J., Gassmann A., McClay A.S. and Wiedenmann R.N. (2006). Avoiding conflicts between insect and weed biological control: selection of non-target species to assess host specificity of cabbage seedpod weevil parasitoids. Journal of Applied Entomology 130: 129-141

Marohasy J. (1998). The design and interpretation of host-specificity tests for weed biological control with particular reference to insect behaviour. Biocontrol News and Information 19: 13-20.

Sheppard A.W. (1999). Which test? A mini review of test usage in host specificity testing. Pp. 60-69 In: Host specificity testing in Australasia: towards improved assays for biological control, T.M. Withers, L. Barton-Browne and J. Stanley (Ed.) Scientific Publishing, Department of Natural Resources, Brisbane.

Spafford-Jacob H. and Briese D.T. (2003). Improving the selection, testing and evaluation of weed biocontrol agents. CRC for Australian Weed Management Technical Series no. 7, Adelaide, Australia.

Withers T.M. and Barton-Browne L. (2004). Behavioral and physiological processes affecting the outcome of host range testing. Pp. 40-55 In: Assessing host ranges for parasitoids and predators used for classical biological control: a guide to best practice, R.G. Van Driesche and R. Reardon (Ed.) USDA Forest Service, Morgantown, West Virginia.

Withers T.M., Hill R.L., Paynter Q., Fowler S.V. and Gourlay A.H. (2008). Post-release investigations into the field host range of the gorse pod moth Cydia succedana Denis & Schiffermuller (Lepidoptera : Tortricidae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Entomologist 31: 67-76

van Driesche R. and Reardon R. (2004). Assessing host ranges for parasitoids and predators used for classical biological control: a guide to best practice. Pp. 243. USDA Forest Service, Morgantown, West Virginia.

van Driesche R.G. and Murray T.J. (2004). Overview of testing schemes and designs used to estimate host ranges. Pp. 68-89 In: Assessing host ranges for parasitoids and predators used for classical biological control: a guide to best practice, R.G. Van Driesche and R. Reardon (Ed.) USDA Forest Service, Morgantown, West Virginia.

van Lenteren J.C., Bale J., Bigler F., Hokkanen H.M.T. and Loomans A.J.M. (2006). Assessing risks of releasing exotic biological control agents of arthropod pests. Annual Review of Entomology 51: 609-634.

van Lenteren J.C., Cock M.J.W., Hoffmeister T.S. and Sands D.P.A. (2006). Host specificity in arthropod biological control, methods for testing and interpreting the data. Pp. 38-63. CAB Publishing, Delemont.