The role of genetic diversity in biological control agents

Sven Tozer-Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown

Biological control agents are often found to have low levels of genetic diversity. This could be as a result of the number of factors which are collection in small numbers and from few sites, population declines in mortality in transit, quarantine, mass rearing and release, inbreeding in mass rearing and host range testing.

This study examined the effects of reduced genetic diversity into two biological control systems, the Pereskia flea beetle,Phenrica guerini Bechyne (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) a control agent on Barbados gooseberry (Periskia aculeata Miller) (Cataceae) and Eccritotarsus catarinensis Carvalho (hermiptera: MIridae) the control agent released on water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).

Eccritotarsus catarinensis is being investigated in a similar manner to determine if a large gene pool will increase the efficacy of the control agent.

For more information see the fact sheets below:

Barbados gooseberry (Periskia aculeata Miller)

Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)

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