Two potential biological control agents for the invasive tree-of-heaven, Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle, have been extensively studied: a vascular wilt fungus, Verticillium nonalfalfae Inderb. (formerly Verticillium albo-atrum Reinke and Berthold), and a host-specific weevil from China, Eucryptorrhynchus brandti Harold, which is currently pending quarantine release. In 2002, V. nonalfalfae was observed in Pennsylvania causing significant mortality to A. altissima. Quarantine experiments were conducted to test different forms of transmission of the fungus by E. brandti to A. altissima. In one experiment, 75% of adult E. brandti transmitted V. nonalfalfae to A. altissima seedlings after contact with a culture and feeding on infected plant material. In another study, 14.7±1.3% of adult E. brandti ingested and passed viable V. nonalfalfae propagules into faeces after feeding on infected A. altissima stems for 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively, and the number of propagules increased at 72 h. Eighty-three per cent of surviving weevils overwintering in naturally infested potting mix carried viable V. nonalfalfae propagules externally. All weevil progeny that emerged from infected A. altissima billets appeared to be as healthy as weevils reared from non-infected billets. Our studies have shown that ingestion of V. nonalfalfae after feeding on infected plant material plays an important role in assessing E. brandti as a potential carrier. Results from these laboratory studies indicate E. brandti has the ability to transfer V. nonalfalfae to A. altissima seedlings in a laboratory setting.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Insect Science