My newest publication on the current state of biological control of water hyacinth in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is hot off the press! (Journal of Biological Control)
Here is the link to the publication, and you can read it and download it free of access for 50 days! (after that just shoot me an email and I’ll send you a copy if you are interested).
This manuscript is a product from some of my work, and collaborations, from the past year that I described a bit in an earlier blog post .
I could not have done this without the help and mentorship of many folks at the USDA, including Kent McCue, Patrick Moran, and Paul Pratt, USDA Research Leader and a specialist in the biological control of aquatic weeds. There were also some very amazing technicians at USDA including Matt Perryman, Caroline Nunn, Anna Beauchemin, Ethan Grossman, and Clayton Sodergren who put a lot of work into this research as well.
Below is a figure (ArcGIS work by Clayton Sodergren) highlighting the spatial variation in peak weevil densities (Aug-Nov. 2015) in the Delta, as well as demonstrating the variation in the abundance and distribution of the two weevil species (Neochetina bruchi and N. eichhorniae).
Let’s face it – not everyday in the life of a scientist is filled with exciting and important discoveries. (And if this is not true for you – please share your secrets with me!)
Friday- My to-do list consisted of:
Training a new undergraduate intern on processing frozen weevils (aka- smashing frozen weevils with plastic pestles in DI water) , and dissecting the weevil-mush (aka- homogenate) under phase contrast at 400x to look for microsporidia.
Footnote: Microsporidia by the way are hands-down the cutest parasites in the world. They are like little shiny hotdogs doing a waggle dance under the microscope. Then they become cooler if you imagine sunglasses on them. Ok.. I might be the only person that thinks this- as several other researchers have voted for other parasites as #1 cutest…
Below is a photo of microsporidia (Nosema fumiferanae postvittana subsp.n.) from the Light Brown Apple Moth that I took during my PhD work. The mature spore form of the microsporidia in the weevil, Neochetina bruchi, look very similar under the microscope. .but so far I have not been finding high intensity infections … rather just 1-2 spores per slide for each weevil. Thus you can imagine it would be hard for a new intern to spot these little critters amongst all the other junk in a dissected bug.
2. After training my new undergraduate intern, and a quick lunch- I proceeded to spend about the next 4 hours (can you believe that?! 4 hours?!) building a large cage for a bunch of weevils that an amazing technician brought back from the field for me. I had to build a large cage to make sure the weevils don’t fly off these plants and start eating other water hyacinth plants that were specifically being maintained as ‘healthy/clean’ for experiments.
The goal is to mass rear ~ 8000 weevils before February among these tanks and some others that I have going right now…. fingers crossed!