Eastern Idaho Entomology Laboratory
Researchers at the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center take an interdisciplinary approach to combine knowledge of ecology, entomology, plant pathology and evolutionary biology to understand how variations in inter-specific interactions affect agro-ecosystem productivity.
A clear understanding of established ecological interactions is especially important within the context of a changing environment, which can alter fundamentally the nature of these interactions at the population, community and ecosystem scale.
Answers to such questions are keys in developing innovative and sustainable management approaches, which aim to minimize economic losses due to pests.
Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles (Col., Elateridae). Historically, wireworm damage was managed by using environmentally persistent conventional chemistries.
These products have been removed from the market due to environmental and human health concerns. Shortly after banning those chemicals, wireworms resurged, causing significant damage to the cereals crops in Idaho. Current registered insecticides for wireworm control in cereals have provided very limited protection.
Regardless of the underlying cause of resurgence, the failure to provide a uniform protection with current insecticides has been attributed to the species-dependent susceptibility as well as the high wireworm pressure. Recently, there has been more emphasis on exploring integrated pest management (IPM) approaches to achieve a sustainable pest control.
Some of the variations in susceptibility may be due to the existing ecological and behavioral differences among species. In most locations, wireworms are a complex of multiple species each with different ecological traits and different levels of susceptibility to current protective chemistries.
The effectiveness of any IPM program relies on a clear knowledge of the co-occurring species and determining predominant species in each locality. With such understanding and information on their behavioral ecology, appropriate management practices can be recommended.
UI researchers are committed to studying the wireworm species composition in southern Idaho. Ecological factors are also being investigated, which may predict the pattern of insect movement and the extent of inflicted damage during field season.
UI is part of a collaborative team of researchers from multiple institutions across the U.S. committed to address cereal growers concern regarding the wireworm issue.
Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) has become a widespread problem that has significantly reduced yields and quality in the Magic Valley and Burley areas of Idaho.
BYDV is a vector-borne pathogen, which can be a limiting factor in cereal growing regions production. Pathogen infections can trigger plant physical and biochemical responses to either limit pathogen multiplication by making the host environment unsuitable for pathogen growth or by targeting and eliminating the invading microorganism.
Different varieties are expected to show different levels of susceptibility to BYDV/aphid infestation occurring at different developmental stages. It is possible that only infestations happening at earlier developmental stages inflict significant quantity and quality loss; late-season infestations may not require intense aphid treatment if changes in biochemical properties and yield are negligible.
This knowledge may not only help to reduce cost of chemical applications by identifying least susceptible developmental stages of different wheat varieties to BYDV infection, but it would also contribute into future development of less susceptible wheat genotypes.
Ongoing research focuses on the following two topics:
- Evaluating the susceptibility and physiological responses of several commonly planted winter and spring wheat cultivars, at different developmental stages, to BYDV infection.
- Quantifying BYDV transmission efficiency from wild alternative hosts to cultivated cereals by the bird cherry-oat aphid vector.
Zebra Chip disease is associated with the pathogen “Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum” (Lso), a vector-borne phloem-limited bacterium transmitted by the potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera: Triozidae).
Frequent insecticide application has been the main approach to limit Lso spread during field season, by eliminating or reducing the potato psyllid numbers. While developing resistant cultivars may provide a relatively more sustainable way to minimize ZC damage, no resistance has been detected in the U.S. potato cultivars.
No research has been conducted to evaluate pathogen/disease development within tubers post-harvest, in relation to the time of infection and insect numbers. UI is set to address these shortfalls through a collaborative effort.