The role of overseas genetic surveys to potentially accelerate biological control development for a new Hydrilla verticillata introduction in the USA

Abstract

Documentation of fine-scale plant genetic identity in order to match weed genotypes between native and invasive ranges can be used to identify potential biological control agents from target genotypes in the hopes that they will be better adapted and thus more effective once introduced into the exotic range. However, the utility of this information for directing future exploration, for example upon introduction of a new weed genotype, is rarely considered. A cryptic introduction of the submersed aquatic weed, Hydrilla verticillata (L.f.) Royle (Alismatales: Hydrocharitaceae), was recently identified in the Connecticut River, which represents a new hydrilla haplotype not previously recorded in the USA. Because we have instituted concurrent plant genetic studies and biological control agent surveys during overseas exploration, potential herbivores of the cryptic introduction may already be known, requiring less resources if a biological control program of this haplotype is instigated. For the newly introduced haplotype and its closest relatives, we identified 22 herbivore taxa from China and Korea, including Bagous spp., Hydrellia spp., and a number of chironomids. This information may now be used to pursue agent development on the cryptic introduction without additional years and resources required to survey native hydrilla populations for new potential agents.

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Data availability

Data are available upon reasonable request to the corresponding author.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank James Straub, Tom Flannery, Mike Greer, Jialiang Zhang, Jianqing Ding, and Sun-hee Hong for their assistance in the field. We also thank Bradley Sartain and Ian Knight for review of an early version of the manuscript.

Funding

Funding for this work was provided by the US Army Engineer Aquatic Plant Control Research Program.

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Authors

Contributions

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Insect and plant samples were collected by NH and MP. Plant tissue processing and analyses were conducted by DW. The first draft of the manuscript was written by NH with input from DW and MP. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nathan E. Harms.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Handling Editor: S. Raghu.

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Harms, N.E., Williams, D.A. & Purcell, M.F. The role of overseas genetic surveys to potentially accelerate biological control development for a new Hydrilla verticillata introduction in the USA. BioControl 66, 271–280 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10526-020-10050-x

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Keywords

  • Aquatic invasions
  • Biological control
  • Cryptic introduction
  • Alismatales
  • Hydrocharitaceae
  • Rapid response