Current Research

• European buckthorn is a major invader of Minnesota's hardwood forests.

Eleven research projects have been awarded funds by the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center, totaling $4.6 million. These funds are provided by an appropriation from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. MITPPC #1: Garlic Mustard Biocontrol: Ecological Host Range of Biocontrol Agents,$600,000 to Dr. Roger Becker, Agronomy & Plant Sciences The long-term goal of this project is to implement a novel technique to achieve long-term sustainable management of A. petiolata by developing a biological control program. The specific outcomes of this project are to characterize the impact, host range, and potential distribution of C. scrobicollis and C. constrictus. The knowledge gained from this study will help determine whether these potential biocontrol agents have the host specificity to be safe and effective biocontrol agents for garlic mustard and will lay the foundation for biological control implementation. Cooperators include CABI; USDA-APHIS; USDA TAG; and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

MITPPC #2: Mountain Pine Beetle, Phase II: Protecting Minnesota, $456,000 to Dr. Brian Aukema, Department of Entomology. This research will focus on characterizing immigration risk of the mountain pine beetle to Minnesota from proximate pine refugia and determine the susceptibility of living pines in Minnesota to adult beetles and their fungal associates. Cooperators include the Minnesota Department of Agriculture; Wheaton College Biological Field Station; US Forest Service; and the University of Alberta. MITPPC #3: Biological control of the soybean aphid by Aphelinus certus,$600,000 to Dr. George Heimpel, Entomology. The overarching research goal is to understand the extent to which the Asian parasitoid, Aphelinus certus, is suppressing soybean aphid populations throughout Minnesota and the extent to which this reduces the insecticide use. Cooperators include the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Zoo.

MITPPC #4: Decreasing the environmental impacts of soybean aphid management, $570,000 to Dr. Robert Koch, Entomology. Current management of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines, relies on application of broad-spectrum insecticides. The goal is to decrease insecticide use and ameliorate associated environmental impacts through development of aphid-resistant soybean varieties and avoid unnecessary insecticide use through remote scouting. Cooperators include Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. MITPPC #5 Optimizing tree injections against emerald ash borer,$320,000 to Dr. Brian Aukema, Entomology. This research will quantify the proportion of trees that must be treated to confer herd immunity to untreated trees for two different non-neonicitinoid compounds.  It will also evaluate potential impacts to non-target insects by surveying insects in treated and untreated ash and conducting laboratory tests to quantify non-target effects for insects associated with ash. Cooperators include the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

MITPPC #6: Distribution and traits of fungal pathogen Fusarium virguliforme that influence current and future risk to soybean and other legumes in Minnesota, $412,000 to Dr. Dean Malvick, Plant Pathology. Fusarium virguliforme is a relatively new invasive pathogen in Minnesota that causes sudden death syndrome on soybean and root rot on other legumes. The severe impacts of this pathogen are likely to stimulate greater use of fungicides, unless alternatives can be found. The overall goal is to fill in key gaps in knowledge of abiotic and biotic factors controlling the pathogen’s distribution and the diseases it causes, and to develop tools to accelerate breeding for resistant varieties. MITPPC # 7 Tools to distinguish native from exotic reed canary grass,$268,000 to Dr. Neil Anderson, Horticultural Science. This project will identify structural plant traits to distinguish native from exotic forms, but these traits might only be reliably used by skilled botanists for identification. Hand-held molecular testing tools will be developed for native / exotic types to enable land managers to quickly determine the status of populations. Cooperators include Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

MITPCC #8: Accurate Detection and Integrated Treatment of Oak Wilt (Ceratocystis fagacearum) in Minnesota, $357,420 to Dr. Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. The project will develop 1) tools for accurate detection and monitoring of oak wilt in Minnesota at multiple spatial scales using hyperspectral imagery and 2) new tools and guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease. Cooperators include the US Forest Service; Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve; University of Nebraska, Lincoln; and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. MITPPC #9 Characterizing dispersal of larval gypsy moth to improve quarantine regulations,$35,000 to Dr. Brian Aukema, Entomology. This proposal will conduct laboratory and field-based behavioral and mark-resight studies to determine how feeding status and age affect dispersal and the costs and effectiveness of different barriers around woodpiles. Cooperators include USDA-APHIS; Minnesota Department of Agriculture; and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.

MITPPC # 10: Management Strategies for the Invasive Spotted Wing Drosophila, $505,000 to Dr. Mary Rogers, Horticultural Science. This research project will improve Spotted Winged Drosophila forecasting by understanding the relative impacts of local movement, long-distance migration, and potential overwintering sources. It will investigate the efficacy of innovative and alternative management techniques and it will evaluate the cost effectiveness and aggregate economic impact of spotted winged drosophila management alternatives and develop decision-making tools for Minnesota berry growers. Cooperators include Metropolitan State University. MITPPC # 11: Will future weather favor Minnesota’s woody invaders?$526,000 to Dr. Peter Reich, Forest Resources. This research will quantify and map how four important woody invaders will compete with key native tree species in forest settings under current and future climate conditions. These climate sensitivity assessments will be useful in threat assessment and planning for the spread of the woody invaders in a warmer and/or warmer and drier climate. Cooperators include The Nature Conservancy; US Forest Service; Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; and Johns Hopkins University.

MITPPC funded four research projects, totaling \$1.24 million in 2015.

Novel Diagnostic Tools for Rapid and Early Detection of Oak Wilt  Principal investigator is Abdennour Abbas, Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering.

Early Detection, Forecasting and Management of the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys  Principal investigator is William Hutchison, Entomology

Climate Change and Range Expansion of Invasive Plants Principal investigator is David Moeller, Plant and Microbial Biology.

Cover it Up! Using Plants to Control Buckthorn Principal investigator is Peter Reich, Forest Resources.