Biocontrol of prickly acacia: host specificity testing of agents from India

Prickly acacia Vachellia nilotica ssp. indica (previously known as Acacia nilotica ssp. indica), a Weed of National Significance, is a major problem for the northern Australian grazing industry, and this Meat & Livestock Australia funded project follows on from ‘New biocontrol opportunities for prickly acacia: exploration in India‘.

After conducting native range surveys in north-western and southern India, laboratory colonies of the leaf-webbing caterpillar and the scale insects were exported from India by the Institute of Forest Genetics & Tree Breeding in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, to Australia for detailed host specificity testing in quarantine.

This project will conduct the host specificity testing for these agents to generate the evidence of target plant specificity required to satisfy regulatory agency requirements for their potential release into the Australian environment. Provided the tests demonstrate target plant specificity, the project organisation will then seek approval to release the insect(s) into the field.

When: May 2011 to June 2017

Where: Ecosciences Precinct, Dutton Park, Queensland

Contact: Dr Kunjithapatham Dhileepan E: kunjithapatham.dhileepan@daf.qld.gov.au

Collaborators: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Arid Forest Research Institute; Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding; CABI, UK.

RD&E objectives: Enterprise sustainability: Increasing natural resource use efficiency and managed environmental impacts

Industry priorities: Grazing land management