Effectiveness of Torymus sinensis: a successful long-term control of the Asian chestnut gall wasp in Italy
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The biocontrol agent Torymus sinensis has been released into Japan, the USA, and Europe to suppress the Asian chestnut gall wasp, Dryocosmus kuriphilus. In this study, we provide a quantitative assessment of T. sinensis effectiveness for suppressing gall wasp infestations in Northwest Italy by annually evaluating the percentage of chestnuts infested by D. kuriphilus (infestation rate) and the number of T. sinensis adults that emerged per 100 galls (emergence index) over a 9-year period. We recorded the number of T. sinensis adults emerging from a total of 64,000 galls collected from 23 sampling sites. We found that T. sinensis strongly reduced the D. kuriphilus population, as demonstrated by reduced galls and an increased T. sinensis emergence index. Specifically, in Northwest Italy, the infestation rate was nearly zero 9 years after release of the parasitoid with no evidence of resurgence in infestation levels. In 2012, the number of T. sinensis females emerging per 100 galls was approximately 20 times higher than in 2009. Overall, T. sinensis proved to be an outstanding biocontrol agent, and its success highlights how the classical biological control approach may represent a cost-effective tool for managing an exotic invasive pest.
KeywordsTorymus sinensis Dryocosmus kuriphilus Classical biological control Invasive exotic pests
The authors are grateful to Elvio Bellini (Chestnut Study and Documentation Centre), Lindsay K. Nova Hernández, Greta Pastorino, Cristina Pogolotti, and Ambra Quacchia for their precious help and cooperation in the laboratory and field activities, and to Daniela Di Silvestro and Giuseppe Siccardi of the Phytosanitary Service of Abruzzo and Liguria, respectively, for their cooperation. The authors would like to thank the referees for their valuable comments which helped to improve the manuscript.
This study was partially funded by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (Lobiocin and Bioinfocast projects).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and animal rights
All the insect rearing and experiments were conducted in accordance with the legislation and guidelines of the European Union for the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/lab_animals/legislation_en.htm). All experimental protocols using insects were approved by the ad hoc Committee of DISAFA of the University of Torino.
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