The Roundup -

Genetics Can Aid Biocontrol Management Decisions


March 21, 2018 | View PDF

In the second of three Sidney Agricultural Research Service BrownBagger talks planned on biological control of invasive plant species, the emphasis is on the use of molecular tools to aid management of whitetop and saltcedar, two invasive species (a weed and a shrub/tree) plaguing the western U.S.

The BrownBagger is hosted by the USDA-ARS Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory (NPARL) in Sidney. The next presentation features Amanda Stahlke, a PhD Candidate in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Program at the University of Idaho, who will be discussing how “Genetics and genomics can inform biocontrol management decisions: Perspectives and prospects from the tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp) and whitetop (Lepidium draba).” Stahlke’s presentation is set for Friday, March 23, from noon to 1 pm in the Tech Transfer Room at the Sidney ARS lab, located at 1500 N. Central Avenue.

Stahlke studies rapid evolution in systems with defined management goals, such as biological control systems and endangered species. Amanda earned a Bachelor of Science at Colorado Mesa University and was trained in biological control, assisting on the tamarisk leaf beetle project with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and host specificity testing at CABI’s Swiss Center. Stahlke interned with Sidney ARS Plant Ecologist Dr. Natalie West last summer at NPARL. The two continue to collaborate on biocontrol efforts related to whitetop (aka hoary cress) biocontrol targets in different habitats. In her talk, Stahlke will discuss their ongoing research, as well as her dissertation research on hybridization in saltcedar beetles.

NPARL invites all interested persons to join us this Friday, March 23 for another interesting talk. Bring your lunch. We’ll provide the dessert!

Stahlke’s presentation will be followed up on April 6 with our final 2018 BrownBagger presentation by John Gaskin. Dr. Gaskin and international colleagues recently completed a worldwide analysis of all known hybrid tree invasions around the world, looking at how hybridization may have aided or mitigated those invasions in new locations as well as how it may affect biological control efforts.

For questions or more information on Sidney ARS’ 2018 BrownBagger Series, contact Beth Redlin at 406-433-9427 or [email protected]


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