Weed biocontrol agent mass rearing at SASRI from 2010 to 2013: What, where, how many and what about the future?

Weed biocontrol agent mass rearing at SASRI from 2010 to 2013: What, where, how many and what about the future?
Des Conlong1, 2 and Denise Gillespie1
1South African Sugarcane Research Institute, 170 Flanders Drive, Mount Edgecombe. 4300. KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
2Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Faculty of Agri-Sciences, Stellenbosch University, P.O. Matieland, Stellenbosch. South Africa. ;

The South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) has since 2010 reared and supplied selected alien invasive plant (AIP) biocontrol agents (BCA) across South Africa for the aquatic weeds Pistia stratiotes, Eichornia crassipes and Salvinia molesta; and the terrestrial invasives Chromolaena odorata, Solanum mauritianum, Lantana camara, Pereskia aculeata and Parthenium hysterophorus. The agents reared and released on these AIP over the last three years are in excess of 536000, and include Neohydronomus affinis, Neochetina bruchi and N. eichhorniae, and Cyrtobagous salviniae respectively for the aquatic weeds; and Calycomyza eupatorivora and Lixus aemulus, Anthonomus santacruzi, Longitarsus bethae and Coelocephalapion camarae, and Phenrica guérini respectively for the terrestrial invasives. In addition, the rust fungus Puccinia xanthii was propagated for release against P. hysterophorus.

During the early part of the contract between SASRI and Working for Water (WfW), the funders of the project, it was agreed, following discussions with the Agricultural Research Council – Plant Protection Research Institute (ARC-PPRI), to terminate the rearing of C. eupatorivora to devote more time and resources to the rearing of L. aemulus.  Agents named in the contract for mass rearing, but on   which   no   action   could   be   taken   because   of   quarantine  release   restrictions,  included Dichrorampha odorata for C. odorata control, and the P. hysterophorus biocontrol agents Listronotus setosipennis and Epiblema strenuata. Towards the end of the contract period, permission was obtained from WfW to mass rear Cornops aquaticum for release against E. crassipes in place of E. strenuata.

The first part of the presentation outlines the successes and constraints experienced over the three year contract in terms of mass rearing and release, why some agents are reared in higher numbers than others, and distribution of  the  BCA throughout South Africa from SASRI. In  addition, the capacity building outcomes which became apparent as the contract progressed are highlighted. Many lessons were learnt which certainly will be carried forward for future mass rearing efforts.

The second part of the presentation will deal with the ending of the current contract on 31 October 2013, and planning the continuation of the mass rearing of selected or all BCA currently being reared, and considering new agents for current and/or additional AIP. This congress provides the ideal opportunity for all concerned to have input into these decisions, and to finalise such a list. This will allow a new budget to be drawn up for the selected biocontrol agents and proposed to the funders (WfW), so that a new contract can be finalised, signed by all parties, and implemented on 1 November 2013.