Ticks of the Caucasus help fight agricultural pests
A group of researchers from the UTMN X-BIO Institute has recently come back from an expedition to the North Caucasus. The expedition was part of a larger project carried out under the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) – “Ecological and genetic screening of insects and ticks bioresources for biological pest control”. The director of the project is Alexander Khaustov, Doctor of Biological Sciences and a professor at X-BIO.
The project will be implanted through 2020 – 2023 in cooperation with All – Russian Institute of Plant Protection (Saint Petersburg). The objective of the project is to search for entomophages, i.e. biological agents that can control pests population. More on the topic of insects “taming” can be read over at the PostNauka portal.
The main area for the study were the highlands regions of Kabardino – Balkaria (Elbrus region) and Karachay – Cherkessia (Dombay and Arkhyz). The scientists have gathered various groups of predatory ticks from the plants and soil. The main purpose of the expedition was to search for perspective species of predatory ticks, which subsequently would be used in the biological protection of agricultural plants. The research took place in the mountain areas of South Russia, which are known for the diversity of flora and a variety of predatory plant ticks. Besides that, it is possible to track changes of tick species complexes depending on the altitude. These mountainous areas remained almost unexplored in the earlier expeditions.
The expedition proved fruitful: extensive material of theoretical and practical nature was accumulated. A number of new species have been discovered. The discovered neoseiulus agrestis is one of the ticks that will be cultivated in the X-BIO Laboratory of Acarology for further research. This type of predatory phytoseiid ticks is parthenogenetic, or in other words able to reproduce without fertilization, which makes it convenient for mass reproducing. A similar expedition of the X-BIO Institute took place in the Altai Mountains in August.
Source: UTMN Department of Strategic Communications