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Mr Tendai Mapondera

Tendai MaponderaMr Tendai Mapondera
Honours student - COMPLETED

Topic: diversity and origin of Gonipterus scutellatus in Western Australia

Murdoch University

Eucalypt plantations are a recent development in the landscape of south-western Australia. The most abundant and the most devastating beetle for established Eucalyptus globulus plantations is Gonipterus scutellatus, the eucalyptus weevil which has been introduced from eastern Australia. Economic losses occur through reduction in tree height, diameter, volume and potential malformation. In eastern Australia, the population of G. scutellatus is regulated by a natural enemy, the mymarid egg parasitoid Anaphes nitens. Subsequently, A. nitens has been used as a biological control agent for G. scutellatus in eucalypt plantations in several countries including Spain, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. However, the use of A. nitens as a biological control has been ineffective in Western Australia.

The current theory to explain this difference is that the limited availability of new flushing foliage from summer onwards, which is essential for A. nitens' feeding and egg laying, results in host shortages between summer and winter. Until now, the eastern Australian origin of G. scutellatus in Western Australia is unknown, as is its genetic diversity. Knowledge of the genetic diversity will provide invaluable information which may be used to identify Anaphes sp. or strains better suited to control. Part of the cytochrome oxidase 1 gene, commonly used in molecular insect ecology, will be sequenced for G. scutellatus samples from the eastern states, Western Australia and Tasmania.  Sequences will be compared using phylogenetic and population genetic analysis to determine diversity and origin of G. scutellatus in Western Australia.

This project was part of the CRC for Forestry Biodiversity project (4.2).

To browse other projects available with the Biodiversity project, click here.