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Harnessing Chemical Ecology to Address Agricultural Pest and Pollinator Priorities

Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Department of Project: 
Stockbridge School of Agriculture
Project Description: 

In recent years, there has been interest in low-cost, reduced-risk materials that could be used for attract-and-kill of the invasive pest, spotted-wing Drosophila Drosophila suzukii. This pest causes heavy economic damage to soft fruits in many countries. In a series of behavioral and physiological studies, we will quantify the effects of using Concord grape juice either, alone or incombination with borax, boric acid, and salt on (1) male and female D. suzukii attraction in cage studies, (2) crop contractions,(3) daily intake and survivorship to determine the potential benefits of using these materials in traps or as food baits in attract-and-kill systems for this invasive pest. Another series of experiments will be conducted to compare the peripheral sensitivity (via the tip-recording technique, used to monitor the neural activity of gustatory receptor neurons) and palatability (via the Proboscis Extension Reflex [PER]) of chitosan, a polysaccharide derived from chitin, with that of erythritol, a sugar alcohol, to male andfemale D. suzukii. For codling moth and Oriental fruit moth, this project will quantify the response of females to selected plant volatiles to potentially improve the effectiveness of current monitoring systems. For Spotted wing drosophila, our experimental approaches will involve behavioral and physiological investigations under laboratory conditions.

Agriculture topics: 
Integrated Pest Management