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Biological control of prickly acacia: Current research and future prospects

Dhileepan, K., Taylor, D. B. J., Lockett, C. J., Balu, A., Seier, M. K., Murugesan, S., Tanner, R.A., Pollard, K.M., Kumaran, N. and Neser, S. (2014) Biological control of prickly acacia: Current research and future prospects. In: Proceedings of the XIV International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, 2 - 7 March 2014 , University of Capetown, Capetown, South Africa.

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Organisation URL: http://www.isbcw2014.uct.ac.za/proceedings_final.pdf


Prickly acacia, Vachellia nilotica subsp. indica (syn. Acacia nilotica subsp. indica) (Fabaceae), a major weed in the natural grasslands of western Queensland, has been a target of biological control since the 1980s with limited success to date. Surveys in India, based on genetic and climate matching, identified five insects and two rust pathogens as potential agents. Host-specificity tests were conducted for the insects in India and under quarantine conditions in Australia, and for the rust pathogens under quarantine conditions at CABI in the UK. In no-choice tests, the brown leaf-webber, Phycita sp. A, (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) completed development on 17 non-target plant species. Though the moth showed a clear preference for prickly acacia in oviposition choice trials screening of additional test-plant species was terminated in view of the potential non-target risk. The scale insect Anomalococcus indicus (Hemiptera: Lecanodiaspididae) developed into mature gravid females on 13 out of 58 non-target plant species tested. In the majority of cases very few female scales matured but development was comparable to that on prickly acacia on four of the non-target species. In multiple choice tests, the scale insect showed a significant preference for the target weed over non-target species tested. In a paired-choice trial under field conditions in India, crawler establishment occurred only on prickly acacia and not on the non-target species tested. Further choice trials are to be conducted under natural field conditions in India. A colony of the green leaf-webber Phycita sp. B has been established in quarantine facilities in Australia and host-specificity testing has commenced. The gall-rust Ravenelia acaciae-arabicae and the leaf-rust Ravenelia evansii (Puccineales: Raveneliaceae) both infected and produced viable urediniospores on Vachellia sutherlandii (Fabaceae), a non-target Australian native plant species. Hence, no further testing with the two rust species was pursued. Inoculation trials using the gall mite Aceria liopeltus (Acari: Eriophyidae) from V. nilotica subsp. kraussiana in South Africa resulted in no gall induction on V. nilotica subsp. indica. Future research will focus on the leaf-weevil Dereodus denticollis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) and the leaf-beetle Pachnephorus sp. (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) under quarantine conditions in Australia. Native range surveys for additional potential biological control agents will also be pursued in northern and western Africa.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:Vachellia nilotica, Acacia nilotica, Biological control, host-specificity
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Biological control
Plant pests and diseases > Weeds, parasitic plants etc
Live Archive:21 Jan 2015 06:57
Last Modified:23 Sep 2021 07:13

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