OVERSEAS COLLECTIONS HELP SOLVE DOMESTIC PROBLEMS

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OVERSEAS COLLECTIONS HELP SOLVE DOMESTIC PROBLEMS Powered By Docstoc
					      S y s t e m a t i c s                                                &   C o l l e c t i o n s

    Overseas Collections Help Solve
          Domestic Problems
                                                MICHAEL SMITH (K11033-1)
            any of the plants and insects                                                      and depriving wildlife of natural habitat.


M           that invade and harm our
            native ecosystem originate
                   ecosystems
                       Therefo
            overseas. Therefore, it’s no
                            AR
            surprise that ARS’s over-
seas laboratories play a vital role in our
                                                                                                  The problem is, these invaders typically
                                                                                               arrive without their homeland’s natural
                                                                                               enemies. But it’s been a stated goal of
                                                                                               EBCL to reacquaint the invaders with their
                                                                                               old foes—even if it means scouring the
                             sp
quest to prevent invasive species from                                                         four corners of the globe. Insect, mite, and
completely taking over The s
                   over.      scientists at                                                    pathogen specimens acquired from such
these laboratories have amassed collec-                                                        excursions are returned to EBCL under
tions of thousands of specimens found                                                          quarantine. There, they are increased in
during expeditions. These collections—                                                         number and subjected to rigorous test-
housed at the laboratories in Montpellier,                                                     ing to ascertain their fitness and safety
France; Hurlingham, Argentina; Brisbane,                                                       as candidate biocontrol agents that could
Australia; and Beijing, China—serve as                                                         eventually be used stateside.
an important resource in identifying and                                                          Over the past several decades, for ex-
evaluating potential biocontrol agents.                                                        ample, the lab’s beneficial microorganism
                                                Adult Asian longhorned beetle.                 collection has grown to some 2,000 speci-
From Europe, With Biocontrols                                                                  mens, including isolates of Beauveria and
   Walker Jones and colleagues at ARS’s                                                        other fungal species with potential to
European Biological Control Laboratory          and wheat stem sawfly, as well as noxious      biologically battle invasive weeds and
(EBCL) in Montpellier, France, are true         weeds like giant reed, leafy spurge, and       insects, such as the Formosan termite.
explorers.                                      yellow starthistle.                               In the process, EBCL researchers have
   Each year, they log thousands of miles          U.S. farmers and property owners aren’t     amassed a wealth of information about
traveling through Eastern and Western           the only ones who feel the economic pinch      the specimens they’ve collected and scru-
Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the            when such exotic species become estab-         tinized. The lab maintains Europe’s most
Balkans, and Asia in search of natural          lished on U.S. soils; native flora and fauna   extensive collection of beneficial-insect
enemies of some of North America’s              also suffer. Infestations of giant reed,       specimens, housed in a climate-controlled
costliest invasive species. These include       Arundo donax, for example, can rapidly         room within 26 cabinets and dozens of
insects such as the Asian longhorned            take over rivers and other wetland areas,      individual boxes, each related to specific
beetle, emerald ash borer, olive fruit fly,     outcompeting indigenous plants for water       past projects. Many beneficial pathogens
                                                   
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Many of the plants and insects that invade and harm our native ecosystems originate overseas. [...] it's no surprise that ARS's overseas laboratories play a vital role in our quest to prevent invasive species from completely taking over.
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