IPM Voice Newsletter                               March 2017
In This Issue: $12.1 Million Available Through USDA-NIFA to Support Crop Protection and Pest Management; USDA Agricultural Research Service Investigates Hawaiian Tree Blight; Researchers Discover Insect-Pathogenic Mycoinsecticides are Activated and Enhanced by Mycoviruses; Greenhouse Growers Use Remote Sensing Technology to Optimize IPM
$12.1 Million Available Through USDA-NIFA to Support Crop Protection and Pest Management
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced $12.1 million in funding that is now available through the Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) Competitive Grants Program. CPPM aims to address high-priority issues related to pests and pest management via IPM approaches at the state, regional and national levels, particularly projects that consolidate food security and that effectively address current major societal pest management challenges. In particular, the program values projects that establish communication networks and stakeholder participation to increase the impact of the research.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, competitive grants are available for CPPM's Applied Research and Development Program Area (ARDP) and Extension Implementation Program Area (EIP). ARDP funds projects that develop new IPM tactics, technologies, practices and strategies. EIP funds Extension priorities to increase IPM implementation and engagement among Extension clientele.
Approximately $4.1 million is available for ARDP and $8 million for EIP. The project period for ARDP is two to four years, and three years for the EIP. Colleges and universities may apply, including Hispanic-serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities, along with research foundations maintained by eligible colleges or universities.
The application deadline is May 9, 2017. For more information, please visit the CPPM program's Request for Applications (RFA) here.
USDA Agricultural Research Service Investigates Hawaiian Tree Blight
A beloved and iconic native Hawaiian tree is under attack by a deadly fungus and USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are investigating how to stop it. Hawaii's ʻōhiʻa (oh-HEE-ah) trees are the most abundant native trees in Hawai'i. They figure prominently in Hawaiian culture and are ecologically important to the islands as major maintainers of watershed health and groundwater quality. The fungus, Ceratocystis fimbriata, is the cause of "Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death" (ROD), a vascular wilt disease that has already destroyed hundreds of thousands of the trees on the Big Island of Hawai'i. ARS researchers are working to identify the genetic origin of the fungus, other plants that host it, factors that affect its virulence and methods to limit and stop its spread.
C. fimbriata lies dormant in affected trees for up to a year before the tree dies a rapid death. Its spores are spread via transport of affected wood, on contaminated gear and tools including clothing, and on tires and the underside of vehicles. Feral ungulates and the wood-boring ambrosia beetle are also suspected as carriers and spreaders of the spores.
ARS researchers have been using molecular techniques to detect and diagnose the disease and map its spread. Currently, ROD is confined to the Big Island of Hawai'i, where researchers estimate that 50,000 acres of the trees have been affected. No cure has yet been found for the disease. University of Hawai'i researchers currently recommend that property owners cut down affected trees as soon as possible and burn the wood onsite.
For more on the efforts to stop ROD, please see the USDA AgResearch Magazine or visit the University of Hawai'i at Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources page on the issue.
Researchers Discover Insect-Pathogenic Mycoinsecticides are Activated and Enhanced by Mycoviruses
Researchers are heralding the discovery of a mycopesticide that is enhanced and activated by mycoviruses, or viruses that affect fungi. The discovery potentially paves the way for a new class of environmentally friendly bio-pesticides. Dr. Robert Coutts of the University of Hertfordshire and Dr. Ioly Kotta-Loizou of Imperial College, London, examined Beauveria bassiana, an insect-pathogenic fungus that occurs in soil and on some plants, for its pest control potential. B. bassiana can infect and kill persistent crop and structural pests such as whiteflies, aphids, grasshoppers and termites. The scientists found that certain mycoviruses cause hypervirulence in B. bassiana and increase mycoinsecticidal efficiency. Insect-pathogenic fungi are employed in many commercially available bio-pesticides, but they are not commonly used in conjunction with mycoviruses.
Scientists hope this discovery will lead to a new class of bio-pesticides that use this mechanism and in turn, reduce grower dependence on chemical pesticides in agriculture. As Dr. Coutts states, "This discovery is potentially transformational for the sector and could elevate the profile of B. bassiana as one of the most environmentally friendly pest control agents for farmers today. This would safeguard ecosystems internationally, especially where the use of chemical insecticides is particularly prevalent. [...] By using viruses as enhancers we will create a new generation of improved mycoinsecticides, increasing the quality of global food production and reducing the environmental impact."
One of the B. bassiana viruses discovered is among the smallest viruses known to science. The discovery offers researchers the opportunity to study a virus in its most rudimentary form, including the core features necessary for it to survive, multiply and exist within cells. This potential may pave the way for targeted interventions that disrupt processes common to all viruses.
For more on this discovery, please visit Phys.org or read the full study here.

Greenhouse Growers Use Remote Sensing Technology to Optimize IPM
Researchers at the University of California Davis (UC Davis) are employing advanced camera systems to detect pest infestations early in greenhouse crops, with an ultimate goal of developing a precise, practical and affordable plant stress detection system for use in IPM systems. The technology works by observing the differences in light reflectance in greenhouse plants to detect arthropod infestations, pathogenic infections, nutrient deficiencies and salt stresses.
The technology operates on a simple principle: pest-induced stress creates small changes in the physiological processes of a plant which create changes in how the leaves of the plant reflect light. These are not detectable by the human eye, but can be measured easily via an advanced camera system. These cameras, mounted on pre-existing rails or pipes within a greenhouse, can easily move over the entire surface area of the crop, surveying its health. Changes in reflectance can be used both for detection of potential stressors and for identification of the stressor based on the degree of reflective change. The high-efficiency technology detects very slight changes in the plants, alerting growers to pest infestations still in their infant stages.
To demonstrate the efficacy of their system, the UC Davis team conducted a study in which the camera system monitored a treatment group of flowering gerbera plants that were subjected to two-spotted spider mites, and one subjected to a Lygus bug infestation. Spider mites have developed resistance to many commercially available miticides, and biological control agents are ineffective if they are released too late or too early, therefore early detection is critical for effective control. The study found clearly detectable, measurable differences between the reflectance of the two treatment groups and a control group. The UC Davis team has further studies planned with other plants and other pests.
Because the monitoring system creates large volumes of data that require considerable data processing and analysis, the team is also working on developing a lighting system for the prototype, which will enable monitoring of plants at night and processing of data by morning.
The UC Davis team is "convinced that robotics and remote sensing will revolutionize greenhouse operations," and notes that private industry and universities worldwide are currently at work developing similar systems using the same technology.
For more on UC Davis's novel monitoring system, please visit Greenhouse Grower.

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Upcoming IPM-Related Meetings and Conferences
May 9-11, 2017 North American Invasive Species Forum  Savannah, GA 
March 19-22, 2018 Ninth International IPM Symposium  Baltimore, MD 
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