ecocompatible strategies to control weeds and insect pests

02/05/2017, 12:44


 Italy (Basilicata, Puglia, Sicily, Lombardia), Morocco, Bulgaria, Greece, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Iran, Romania, Slovenja, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakja, Turkey, Kenya

Trip to Basilicata and Pulia  (February 28 - March 03, 2017)
by M. Cristofaro and S. Arnone
Short meeting at the University of Bari to give Ailanthus infested stems to E. De Lillo and (at the CNR) to M. Vurro. Drove to Basilicata (Rotondella, ENEA Trisaia). Spent one day there working with Baldacchino, Balducchi and Arpaia. During the trip from ENEA Trisaia towards Matera just one stop near Metaponto: found Arundo with Cryptonevra and found a big Lepidoptera larva on the tip of Arundo stem (collected few samples). In Matera checked some of the Arundo cluster near the hotel (no good sites). We drove towards Altamura, where we found a large population of Cryptonevra. Next stop of the day near Gravina di Puglia: found and collected Ailanthus plants showing symptoms of necrosys. Last stop of the day near Corato: found a second large population of Cryptonevra (collected). Drove to Bari, where we left to E. De Lillo the Ailanthus sample collected near Gravina. Drove in the area near Margherita di Savoia, first site of the day near "molo della Darsena": collected few weevils Ceuthorrynchus sp. (assimilis??) on Sahara mustard; found as well some Nititulidae on the flowers.
Field trip to Marocco (April 03-09, 2017)
by M. Augé and F. Marini
The goal of the exploration was to look for populations of Brassica tournefortii (Sahara mustard), following the historical literature of date palm agriculture and some herbarium record sites from the British Museum and National History Museum of Paris.
We started the exploration in Fez, moving toward South. The first stop was in Boudenib, near the Algerian border (this town seems to be the exact oasis where the earliest crops originated from). We continued our route moving back towards North, up to the Mediterranean Sea; returned back in Fez after a small exploration along the cost. In total, 4 populations of B. tournefortii have been found. In Boudenib found a small population (less of twenty plants) along a dirt road, located between two fields of date palm; collected seedpods from 15 plants and leaves only from one, stored in paper bags and silica gel, respectively. In Guercif the population is very small and very localized; the plants are still green and the seedpods look bigger than the previous one found in Boudenib (the seeds are red); collected seedpods from 13 plants and leaves only from four of them. In Cap de L’Eau found one population along the way close to the beach; the plants are quite young with the seedpods still green (some of them do not have seedpods yet) and the population is a little bit wider (around 40 plants). Collected seed pods from 20 plants and leaves when it was possible. In Boudinar found a big population, the plants are present on both side of the road and, especially on the sea side, they stretch for at least 200-300 meters; some plants are dry, but in any case the seedpods are still green. Collected seedpods from 20 plants and leaves when it was possible. General note: unfortunately, in the most of cases the seedpods were still green or not completely dry, we really hope that the seeds will be able to germinate. Regarding the young leaves the situation is even worst, because it was almost impossible to find them. Finally, except for Boudinar, the populations found were quite small and located in very small area, therefore it was not possible to collect samples from plants 5 meters far each other.
Field trip to Sicily (April 05 -08, 2017)
by M. Cristofaro and B. Rector
Travel in South-eastern Sicily looking for infested Thaeniatherum caput-medusae (TACA) plants. At the Archaeological Park of Selinunte found a large infestation of a new seed galling wasp (probably a Cynipid) on medusa-head. We also checked the TACA plants outside of the Archaeological Park and we recorded the sympotms. Near Siculiana (marina di Siculiana) found and collected some other TACA heavily attacked by the galling wasp. In another site very close to Gela found a large infestation of TACA, with an early attack of galling wasp. We recorded the presence of TACA until the town of Ragusa. Near Chiaramonte Gulfi, not far from Modica, found a good infestation of TACA, but just 4 plants were showing galls (1-2/plant). 
Field trip in Milan (May 02, 2017)
by M. Cristofaro and M. Augé
The aim of this day in the field was to look for populations of Ambrosia artemisifolia and one of its natural regulators: Ophraella communa (Chrysomelidae) in part of its invaded are in North-West Italy. We found the plant on a slope where it was mixed with 2 species of Artemisia sp. morphologically very similar to the target plant. Plants were young (6 to 10 leaves) and almost no damage has been observed on plants in this site, but we found 1 larva on one edge of the field. Young plants (about 40) have been collected and stored in carton tubes with paper and water. We then moved to the second site in Magenta: here the plants are even younger than in the first site (2 to 6 leaves), but were showing herbivory damage and we finally found cluster of orange eggs under the leaves of damaged target plants. Collected in separate carton tubes.
Field trip to Bulgaria and Greece (May 05-10, 2017)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Trip from Plovdiv towards Greece passing through Svilengrad: collected cheatgrass sample for eventual eriophyid mite detection, rush skeletonweed, Lepidium draba and several cocoons of Coniatus sp. on saltcedar. Recorded midge galls on Galium aparine (maybe Geocrypta galii). Found Bromus tectorium sample (North of Komotini). We drove with cooperators V. Harizanova and A. Stoeva towards the town of Mineralni Bani: found few dark flea beetle with red pronotum on YST, 2 samples of Psylliodes chalcomerus "YST population" and some Psylliodes larvae leaf mining on Centaurea solstitialis (YST). Driving towards Starusel found a very good place for YST: recorded 2 CEBA, one Larinus filiformis and one Lixus sp. but no Psylliodes. Near the site we recorded an impressive damage on pine trees (dead), most probably due to a massive attack of a long-horn beetle. Found few more red-pronotum flea beetles. Near the town of Byala Reka found a good population of YST without any damage by Psylliodes (recorded one LAFI).
Field trip to Kazakhstan (May 10-20, 2017)
by M. Cristofaro and B. Rector
Aim of this trip was to meet with M. Beksultanov (Department of Chemistry and Plant Protection, Ministry of Agriculture) and his  cooperators in Almaty and discuss about the possibility to carry out biological control programs with them. Visited the University, the new Eurasian Technological University, the Kazakh Research Institute for Plant Protection. We attented a very amazing demonstration of the drone monitoring system on grasshoppers populations. Furthermore, travelling through the country (Shymkent, Zambyl, Arys, Taraz) we were searching for plants involved in our projects. We recorded the presence of populations of Russian olives, Tamarix, Bromus tectorum, TACA, Acroptilon, Onopordum and Phragmites.
Field trip to Kazakhstan (May 18 -27, 2017)
by M. Augé, M. Volkovitch, S. Stutz
The aim of this field exploration was to collect mites and their host plants to set up rearings at CABI and at the University of Montana. The 2 main target species were Lepidium latifolium (PPW) and Acroptylon repens. Other target plants in this trip were Botumus umbellatus (aquatic plant easily recognised with its typical flowers and its triangle shoot) and  Bromus tectorum. Meeting in Almaty with M. Cristofaro and B. Rector before they went back to Italy. Driving North-East of Almaty we found sympatric Bromus tectorum, Lepidium latifolium and L. draba together, but without mites. Still looking for Botumus umbellatus, despite a lot of efforts we didn’t find the plant. Furthermore, we found a huge population of B. tectorum on a surface of at least 1Ha: collected about 40 samples for genetic analysis. Also found 3 small Tamarix sp. trees highly infested with cocoons of Coniathus sp. (adults emerged during the trip and were stored in pure ETOH after the return in Rome) and Cryptocephalus sp. (C. trimaculatus ?). We also found sympatric population of both species of Lepidium; both were attacked by a metallic blue/green chrysomelid  and a caterpillar; we observed mite symptoms, but solely on L. latifolium. Going down to the Ily river, near the Petroglyph site, Mark found Sphenoptera foveola on Chondrilla. We also found a big population of Bromus tectorum, occuring on both sides of the sandy path for several kilometers; all maturity stages were found at that time, from green plants to senescent one. We collected 40 samples with at least 5m distance between each of them, for genetic analysis and some leaves with infested by the rust. Collected mites on PPW along the river in 4 different sites. Following the river in North-West direction we found some plants of Alhagi pseudoalhagi (attacked by Diorabda), Sphenoptera foveola (around 75 individuals), a big population of Bromus tectorum (on about 1000 m2, mixed with wild weat: most of the leaves were eaten by larvae of Acrididae, found few mites (2) at the insertion of the leaves). Driving more deeply in the desert we observed L. draba, a few Acroptylon repens, Alhagi, some dry Salsola. Looking at Acroptylon repens, Sonja found the mites and succeded in bringing them back alive in her quarantine facility. Even on Acroptilon we found Cerambycidae: we collected stem galls, flower galls and mined stems.
Field trip to Greece (May, 28-30, 2017)
by F. Marini and J. Kashefi
Goal of this trip was to look for galls on Taeniatherum caput-medusae (TACA), recorded the first time by Javid in a site close to Alexandroupoli. Found populations of TACA with different kinds of damage: stem galls on some spikes, spikes with tracks of feeding on seeds and leaves; some spikes look eaten; the upper part of some spikes is very weak, thin and already dry, even if the rest of spike is still green. Many spikes were already dry, even if the most of plants are still young. Checking on the collected spikes, a larva of Lepidoptera has been found (stored in EtOH 95%). Lastly, some small black weevils have been found between the seeds. We harvested youngest leaves and spikes (for M.-C. Bon, storing them in silica gel), and oldest spikes (for Steve, according to Steve’s protocol). The infestation rate it is no so high compared with the wide of the TACA population, despite the number of stem galls found is higher than in other areas. We also found a weevil on TACA and a spot of Lepidium draba with strong symptoms of mite attack. Finally, spikes with stem galls were organised in two bouquets, one has been left at EBCL lab and the other has been brought at BBCA facilities.
Field-meeting in Belgrade (June 11-13, 2017)
by F. Marini
Goals of this meeting were to 1) discuss the protocol about the experiment to evaluate the effect of Aceria artemisiifoliae attack on the quality and/or quantity of highly allergenic pollen of Ambrosia artemisiifolia (ragweed); 2) start to set up the experiment about Aceria artemisiifoliae and Ambrosia artemisiifolia pollen; 3) perform first survey about the presence of Aceria artemisiifoliae in the field. Also done field work looking for eriophyid mites on Ailanthus altissima and Ambrosia artemisiifolia.
Field trip to Slovakja (June 13-17, 2017)
by F. Marini and S. Novak
Our goals were to 1) collect soil samples of specific native populations of Ventenata dubia to conduct a soil microbiome analysis;
2) look for eriophyid mites on Ambrosia artemisiifolia (ragweed); 3) carry out opportunistic collection about other BBCA projects. About Ventenata: to conduct soil microbiome analysis, we selected two slovakjan populations of Ventenata dubia, in Kamenica (no plants found) and in  Semerovce (samples collected). Since we did not find the population in Kamenica (probably the best one in Slovakia) we decided to include other two populations: one in Medovarce and one in Novà Dedina: in both sites, the populations have been found and the soil samples have been collected. About Ambrosia: visited three sites, but we found only few plants showing slight symptoms of eriophyid mite attack on young leaves. About other BBCA projects, found a population of Bromus tectorum.
Field trip to Iran (June 12-25, 2017)
by F. Marini and P. Weyl
Goals of this trip were: 1) to close the experiment regarding the study of Aceria acroptiloni host-range (potential biological control agent against Acroptilon repens - Russian knapweed), under open field conditions (OFT); 2) to perform first survey about Anararsia eleagnella in the shoot tips of Elaeagnus angustifolia (Russian olives); 3) opportunistic collections for other projects. We met prof. Asadi and visited the facilities at the University of Mashhad, performing the eriophyid mite extractions on samples of Acroptilon repens and Carthamus tinctorius (following Monfreda & de Lillo protocol).  Visitation of the fields around Shirvan to collect A. repens and C. tinctorius. Checked the site for nematodes on A. repens, but only few plants were infested. At the University farm, collected plants involved in the OFT regarding A. acroptiloni (i.e. Cynara scolymus, C. tinctorius, Lactuca seriola, Veronia fasciculate, Artemisia ludoviciana, Aster levigata); three inoculations of eriophyid mites have been done on each plants of the field garden, using  A. repens flowers galls. Kept a lecture about the Classic Biological Control for prof. Asadi’s PhD students. During the trip, we also sampled Taeniatherum caput-medusae, Bromus tectorum, Alhagi  maurorum, Convolvulus sp. with larvae
inside the seed pots.
Field trip to Armenia (June 17 -23, 2017)
by M. Cristofaro, F. Di Cristina, M. Volkovitsh
Trip starting from Yerevan (where we met with M. Kalashian) driving towards the Noravank Gorge. Camps organized in Khosrov State Reserve, in Noravank Gorge and in Goravan desert. Collected cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) samples for genetic analysis, Taeniatherum caput-medusae samples for genetic analysis plus seeds for us, and Taeniatherum sp. (big seeds) for detection of mites and for DNA analysis. Found Larinus filiformis and other weevil spp. on Centaurea solstitialis (YST), tephritid flies on Acroptilon repens, eriophyid mites on Chondrilla juncea and other Chondrilla plants with roots, weevils (3 spp) on Alhagi sp. Also collected 250 Oporopsamma pupae and 12 Bradyrrhoa larvae. In a YST site near the town of Vedi collected about 12 Larinus filiformis and some other weevil spp.
Field trip to Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria (June 28-July 05, 2017) and Greece (July 05-10)
by M. Augé, J. Kashefi, S. Novak, R. Sforza and  L. Smith 
Aim of this trip was to collect Ventenata dubia and check for the presence of eriophyid mites. 12 sites have been checked through Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria but no mites have been found through all samples of Ventenata dubia collected. Report regarding only the location and description of the populations.
In Greece we tried to identify and check population status of the stem gall forming Hymenoptera on Taeniatherum caput-medusae and collect Aceria salsolae on Salsola tragus. Reached the TACA stem gall site close to the Turkish border (road from Alexandroupouli to the village of Vrisoula), but we didn’t find any gall on this site and collected all symptomatic Taeniatherum caput-medusae (however, the symptoms observed are not due to any galls). On the way back found a big population of TACA subsp. asperum and YST. In Thessaloniki with J. Kashefi found a lot of mites on a big tree of Ailanthus altissima. In many cutted wheat field after Petrana we found Salsola populations showing mite symptoms, but we were not able to find any after both field and lab check: Javid hypothesised that the mites could have diseapper because of the climate change (there were a lot 5 years ago, only found a few in 2016 and none in 2017).
Field trip to Bulgaria (July 20-23, 2017)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Starting from Plovdiv we drove to Karadzhovo, but we did not find any Salsola plants at the site  (heavily cultivated with corn and tobacco). Centaurea solstitialis was very common and we recorded important  eriophyid mite symptoms on some individuals; collected samples (checked under the microscope) and some seeds. Another stop at the former Salsola site near Stamboliyski: found plants at different phenological stages; collected plants with some symptoms. Next stop at the Ailanthus site: no mites, but collected few weevils on Centaurea sp. (prob. renana or stoebe). At the Parvomai Lake we found rush skeletonweed infested with eriophyid mites and some Taeniatherum caput-medusae plants to verify the seed germination rate. Collected samples for DNA of both Chondrilla and cheatgrass at the entrance of Plovdiv.  At the Starosel site collected cheatgrass samples and recorded Verbascum, Chondrilla and 2 biotypes of Taeniatherum (crinatum and caput-medusae).
Field trip to Turkey (20-23 July, 2017)
by M. Augé
Goal of this trip was to collect Aceria salsolae on Salsola tragus in Cappadocia. During the trip collected 12 populations of plants in different sites (Göreme south, Göreme north, Aktepe, Ortahishar, Ibrahimpasha, Uçhisar, North West of Göreme, Avanos). Mites were found only on population collected in Aktepe.
Field trip to Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece (August 5-14, 2017)
by M. Cristofaro and S. Arnone
Aim o f this trip was to check for our target plants Ailanthus and Ambrosia. Driving from Tuscany to the Slovenian boarder, no damage found on Ailanthus plants. In the area West of Trieste found a severe attack of Ophraella on Ambrosia (45%: eggs larvae, adults). In Slovenia, found Ambrosia damaged by Cuscuta and many other Ambrosia plants infested with Ophraella (20-25%: adults, eggs). Found Ailanthus infested with eriophyid mites. In Croatia, just 4-5 km after the border with Slovenia, found Ambrosia with Ophraella (10%: 2 adults). Good spot of Ailanthus infested with eriophyid mites at the entrance of the Punat village. Driving South in the direction of Paklenica recorded big populations of Ambrosia without any Ophraella. At the entrance of the town Karlobag found a good population of Ailanthus hevily attacked by eriophyid mites. Going North towards the Plitvicka Jezara National Park, checked 3 sites for Ambrosia (very large populations) without any Ophraella. In Belgrade, short meeting at the University with cooperator R. Petanovic (given samples to her) and drove Southern towards Skopje, Makedonia. There, close to the town of Gradsko found large Ailanthus population, infested with eriophyid mites. Arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece, meeting with J. Kashefi. Driving East towards the Halkidiki Peninsula, at the Ailanthus place near Thermi found plants with eriopyid mites. Made two collections of LASIO for John Goolsby in an Arundo site. On the way back, in Italy near Castrocielo found Ailanthus with eriopyid mites (the southest Italian record so far). 
Trip report to Belgrade, Serbia (September 06-08, 2017)
by F. Marini
Goals of this trip were: to deliver samples at the University of Belgrade (to cooperator B. Vidovic) and update regarding identifications of old samples and pending papers; and to set up the experiment about Aceria artemisiifoliae and Ambrosia artemisiifolia pollen and perform the inoculation of eriophyid mites. Collected 50 plants of Ambrosia (with the inflorescence on the main stem as small as possible and taken from an eriophyid mite-free area) and set up the experiment about Ambrosia pollen. 
Field report to Kenya (September 07-16, 2017)
by M.Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
First trip for the starting project about biological control of Guinea grass (Megathyrsus maximus). Accomodation at the Mpala Research Centre: we can act only inside the Centre area, protected by an electric fence. First collection done just near our house: found a strange small Lepidoptera cocoon (with a larva inside) made by the petals of Guinea grass itself; collected leaves for DNA analysis. Meeting with director Dino Martins. Found another spot of Guinea grass with dry stems along the way from the house to the cafeteria: collected plants and checked under the stereomicroscope, found a cluster of (probably) Lepidoptera eggs under the leaf sheet and a very tiny external leaf miner. Met Kennedy Saitoti, a young biologist working at the Mpala Research Centre, who will be our escort driver in our trips outside the Centre. He drove us to other Guinea grass sites: collected Guinea grass with roots, recorded two possible "biotypes", one smaller and one with a bigger stem and larger leaves. Collected a larva of a small Lepidoptera, feeding in the young flowers of the weed; in the leaf sheet found some grey arthropods with their eggs. Driving North, on a site below some granite rocks we recorded the two "biotypes" of Guinea grass and collected 2 leaf beetles (probably Cryptocephalinae), and plants of both forms for the dissection; close the Mpala School collected samples of the target weed and dissected at home: recorded nymphs and one adult of Aleyrodidae and some Diptera eggs under the leaf sheet. In direction towards Mt. Kenya, we did not find any Guinea grass at high altitude, but collected some eriophyid mite galls on Erica sp. Collected both Guinea grass and buffelgrass very close to the main entrance of the Mpala Campus (seeds of buffelgrass and stems with eriophyid mites under the leaf sheet). According to J. Goolsby’s request, collected also ticks.

11/04/2016, 14:27

PPW, Taenatherium, Psylliodes, Alhagi


 Portugal, Italy (Sicilia, Sardegna, Puglia), Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Iran .........

Field trip in Portugal (January 05 - 08, 2016)
M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
About 25 km West of Lisbon (town of Oeiras) found probably some plants of Rapistrum sp. with some symptoms: collected about 5. Check the sites along the sea, looking for Tamarix: the target is present but without any damage. Along the road for Plaja Marinha (Lagoa) found Arundo with an interesting attack of LASIO and recorded a damage made by a caterpillar (Pyralid?); collected some infested leaves to try to get the adults. At the seashore site, collected perennial Salsola (or Sueda) infested with eriophyid mites.
Field trip in Sicily (February 04-06, 2016)
by F. Di Cristina and M. Guedj
Harvested Arundo canes along the road for Siracusa, near Avola and near Noto and along the road between Pachino and Marza. Found scale on Tamarix and young Salsola. No Sahara mustard found in all the beaches we visited.
Field trip in Sardinia (February 17-20, 2016)
by F. Di Cristina, M. Guedj, M. Barlattani
Arrived in Cagliari on Feb 17. Harvested Arundo canes near Gonnesa, in Fluminamaggiore and near S. Antioco. Near the beach of Gonnesa collected plants of supposed Brassicae tourneforti (the plants are not bolting), other Brassicaceae with white flowers and one specific of the place: Brassicae insularis. In Calasetta found a lot of plants of Brassicae sp. bolting with little flowers yellow. In Capoterra found Coniatus on Tamarix. Visited several beaches but no Sahara mustard found.
Field trip in Israel and Turkey (February 29 - March 09, 2016)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Aim of the trip in Israel was to explore the country in search of new collection areas and to visit the Volcani Centers and the Gene Seed Bank Institute. Meeting with Dr. Joseph Hershenhorn (in Nazareth) and Alon Singer (in Tel Aviv). We travelled from Tel Aviv towards Qiryat Eqron, then Nazareth, Cesarea, Arad (close to the Dead Sea). Recorded Tamarix sp. heavily attacked by a stem galling moth and few eriophyid galls on the tips, and Centaurea sp. (not in bolting stage) and seedlings of Salsola kali. We also found Sahara mustard: collected plant samples for DNA analyses, seeds and found about 10 Ceuthorrynchus sp. weevil adults, 5-6 stem galls and one leaf beetle adult feeding on the pods. Also detected exit holes and external damage in/on the roots of Sahara mustard (too late to collect the insect(s) species).
In Turkey (Antalya), found a very good spot of Sahara mustard: collected material for DNA analyses and several seeds.
Near the town of  Kumluca found Arundo donax with an heavy LASIO damage. Near the town of Demre found a small population of Sahara mustard: collected 4 plant samples for DNA analyses. Near the town of Demre, close to beach we found a small population of medusa-head showing some damage (pathogen?). Meeting in Kayseri at the Erciyes University with K. Gürcan; also visited the field plot (PPW and YST) sites at the University.
Field trip in Turkey (April 04-08, 2016)
by M. Augé and F. Marini
Overall purpose of this trip was to investigate about different target weeds. We were looking for: mites on Taeniatherum caput-medusae (TACA), Lepidium latifolium (PPW) and Isatis tinctoria (ISATIS); larvae and/or pupae of weevil (Lepidotychius winkleri) on Alhagi sp. Meetings in Kayseri with K. Gürcan and in Cappadocia with our cooperator Connie Zieglmeier. Setting the open-field tests about PPW in Kayseri and ISATIS in Cappadocia. Checked the phenological stage of the plants in YST open-field test of the last year in Kayseri University.
Field trip in Puglia, Italy (April 18-21, 2016)   
by M. Augé, F. Marini and B. Rector
Main purpose of this trip was: a) looking for mites on Taeniatherum caput-­medusae (TACA) to have samples enough to conclude the infestation of plants involved in the host-range test at BBCA facilities; b) looking for natural regulators on Sahara mustard; c) meet prof. E. De Lillo at the University of Bari to learn more about eriophyid mites: the protocol to collect mites from plant samples, how to prepare the slides to see the mites under the microscope and how to distinguish the gender. About TACA: harvested several samples in different sites to look for mites. Found some plants with symptoms of mite’s attack. Moreover, two red larvae (probably Diptera) were found on leaves that were slightly curved. Found other very big plants with several spikes showing symptoms of mite’s attack. About Sahara mustard: some plant have flowers of two different colors (white and yellow). Collected different kind of samples, like seeds with and without damage by eating, one larva of Lepidoptera, a Cerambicidae, several weevils and one larva that was found inside of the stem, close to the ground. In all sites we didn’t found any Psylliodes sp. or galls on the roots.
Field trip in Jordan (April 26-May 1, 2016)
by M.Augé and F. Marini
Overall purpose of this trip was to to carry out explorations about different target weeds, looking for the plants and their natural enemies, collecting samples for DNA analysis: Brassica tournefortii (SAMU), Taeniatherum caput-medusae (TACA), Bromus tectorumTamarix sp. (SALT), Chondrilla juncea (RWS), Salsola tragus (SALS). General comments: Brassica tournefortii is very common in Jordan; potential symptoms of mites attack have been observed and collected. Tamarix sp.: symptoms of mites attack have been found and collected. The samples have been given to E. De Lillo, in order to extract some mites and work on its identification. 
Field trip in Turkey (May 09-12, 2016)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Aim of this trip was to check the status of the test plants for two (potential) experimental fields, one for PPW mite (at the Erciyes University, Kayseri) and the other for Isatis mite (at Connie Zieglmeier’s orchard). In addition, our purpose was to look for the presence of mites on cheatgrass and TACA, to verify the presence of the leaf beetle on medusahead  and to set up the impact test of the eriophyid mite on Russian olive. Achievements: 1) PPW: the test plants were in very good conditions, but the plants were too small. 2) Dyers woad: the test plants were very mall (both at the University and at the Connie’s facilities), but the main problem was that we did not found eriophyid mites on the wild Isatis plants. 3) TACA: checked some of the plants were previously (2014 and 2015) we recorded the presence of Aculodes sp. on young seedling plants of medusahead, but we recorded just few mites.  Plants were still very small and we decided to postpone any additional observations on this target to the next visit. 4) Cheatgrass: collected plant samples in 3 different sites; near Ortahisar found a large mite infestation, we also recorded an interesting pathogen attack (smut?): collected sample for additional studies. 5) Russian olive: set up in a private land a field impact study, marking a total of 10 branches (50cm long) infested with eriophyid mites (red ring) and another 10 healthy branches with a yellow ring. Another test will be carried out at the University campus on the 20 Russian olives purchased 2 years ago.
Field trip in Bulgaria (May 17-20, 2016)
by M. Augé and F. Marini
Overall purpose of this trip was: 1) looking for TACA and mite’s population; 2) collecting samples of Psylliodes sp. (both larvae and adults) on Centaurea solstitialis (YST) and Onopordum sp. (ONO), in order to get some genetic data and to set up the experiments for next year. We met our bulgarian cooperators V. Harizanova and A. Stoeva at the University of Plovdiv; field work together (south-east of Plovdiv). Collected some plants of TACA to check for the presence of mites and for genetical analysis. In the fields around Plovidiv, found 7 adults of Psylliodes sp. on ONO plants. Unfortunately, most places where Psylliodes sp. have been found in the past on YST or ONO are changed, now many of them are cherry orchards or land cultivated. According with V. Harizanova and A. Stoeva, this year the spring seems to be quite cold. During the next months, they will look for new sites where it is possible to find Psylliodes sp.
Field trip in South-Eastern Kazakhstan (part I, May 13-22, 2016)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Main purpose of this part of the trip was to search for new PPW mite populations associated with PPW biotypes closely related to the US PPW biotypes (in comparison with Central Turkey PPW). In addition, we were looking for the eventual presence of mites on cheatgrass and TACA, and to look for new potential candidate agents on Russian olive, Russian knapweed, Russian thistle and the new target weeds Alhagi spp. and Halogeton spp. Finally, we were in the Country to collect a large number of Sphenoptera foveola, a buprestid closely associated with rush skeleton weed. During 6 days of exploration we covered an area near the Ili River, performing collections in 20 sites while we were traveling for more than 1,200 km, from Almaty (South) to almost the Balkhash Lake. 1) PPW:  found 4 sites with eriophyid mites (2 of them very large populations). 2) Russian thistle: found a large community of weevils in two sites (collected at least 6 different species). 3) Cheatgrass: collected material from 4 sites: all of the samples showing clear an attack of a red rust species; unfortunately we never recorded any eriophyid mites on the inspected plants; found in one site a small Diptera larva and one egg. 4) Saltcedar: checked plants in more than 5 sites; collected Coniatus spp. in 2 sites. 5) Skeletonweed: more than 150 adults of the root boring buprestid have been collected in two times in two locations. 6) Russian knapweed: collected material from 3 sites: a large infestation of an eriophyid mite (probably Aceria acroptiloni) has been recorded; in addition, a large attack made by a long-horn beetle (probably Phytoecia virgula) has been recorded; a small sample of plants with a rust attack (probably Puccinia acroptili) has been collected in one site. 7) Russian olive: collected material from several sites; found so far just a caterpillar (in one site) and a leaf beetle (probably Altica balassogloi) in 4 sites. 8) Camelthorn: collected material from 3 sites: a possible infestation of eriophyid mites and two sites with the leaf beetle Diorhabda spp. have been recorded.
Field trip in South-Eastern Kazakhstan (part II, May 20-28, 2016)
by M. Augé and F. Marini
We took a turn with M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina. The principal focus of the trip was to look for populations of PPW infested by eriophyid mites. In particular, it was to find a mite strain potentially better adapted to invasive PPW in the US, carrying out foreign explorations in South-East Kazakhstan, where we previously recorded PPW populations similar to the most common genotype present in the US. Among the 16 sites where we recorded PPW in Kazakhstan, on 8 of them eriophyid mites have been recorded and collected. Near Koram and along the road to our first camp (Sharyn River region) we collected 10 spikes of TACA, pieces of RUSSIAN OLIVE with symptoms of mite attack, plant and roots of PPW, three adults of Diorhabda sp. from Alaghi. Along the route A353 (in Altyn Emel National Park, direction Konyrolen) we collected on several samples of PPW (blooming) adults of Alticinae, caterpillars, pieces of plant and roots with mites. Travelling on route A350, along the Koksu River, we collected PPW plants showing strong symptoms of mite attack and with eaten leaves (Alticinae?), a weevil, SALT with symptoms of mite attack. Along the road between Balgaly and Tary we found plants of PPW showing mites attack. In direction from Bakbakty to the Kapchagay lake we collected some plants of Alaghi and samples of SALT plants with symptoms of mite attack; close to the lake we collected some infested plants of PPW, to bring back at CABI with Alaghi plants, in order to develop a colony of eriophyid mites from Kazakhstan in their quarantine.
Field trip in Slovakia (June 13-16, 2016)
by M.Augé and F. Di Cristina
Mission purpose was to collect fresh samples of Ventenata dubia (VEDU) and check the eventual presence of eryophid mites. We met our cooperators Pavol and Peter at the Agropark in Nitra. Collected samples of VEDU on 7 different sites. Everytime, the plant is growing on open spaces on woody hills. Found one pupa on site 2 and two Coleoptera on sites 3 and 7 (1 on each). We also collected seeds when plants were dry enough. We tried to go northern to collect fresher plants but couldn’t access the last site (too abrupt and dangerous because of the rain).
Field trip in Turkey (June 20-25, 2016)
by M.Augé and F. Marini
This trip was related to following projects: Bromus, Isatis, TACA, PPW, Russian olive. We collected populations of TACA for DNA analysis; there were not many plants of PPW and the most of them did not grow up again after the last sampling carried out in May, therefore only few samples have been picked to check for the presence of mites, but no one has been found. In Ortahisar, we checked the experiment about the evaluation of the impact of the eriophyoid mite Aceria angustifoliae on Russian olive (count of leaves, flowers and fruits attacked). Nothing has been found about galls on Isatis, nor smooth on Bromus. In Göreme-Ortahisar we observed some larvae feeding on seeds of Isatis (collected and stored alive). Found some extremely infested samples of Isatis. In Kayseri, stop at Incesu Lake to pick up samples of PPW, unfortunately no many mites have been found. Checked the situation about the experiment on Russian olive in Kayseri University: the most of trees are in good shape, all infested branches have grown up (they are longer more or less of 20 cm). In Kayseri’s swamp picked other samples of PPW to increase the possibility to find mites and perform the OFT. The choice of the samples to carry out in the PPW OFT has been done according with them genotype; finally, 5 plants for each specimen were infested and their position in the map has been chosen in random mode. 
Field trip in Bulgaria and Turkey (July 11-18, 2016)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
We met our cooperators V. Harizanova and A. Stoeva at the University of Plovdiv. Exploring the fields along the road from Plovdiv towards Harmanli (SE of Plovdiv) we found a good population of YST without any weevil, a large dark flea beetle on YST and maybe one Psylliodes; collected YST seed samples for genetic analysis. We found a very good site for TACA, YST and Dipsacus. Also found YST with eriophyid symptoms and phytoplasma like symptoms; collected dark flea beetles as well. Direction North from Plovdiv (near the village Kaloyanovo) collected about 8 flea beetles on YST. After the village Staro Zhelezare found YST (without damage) and another Centaurea sp. (white flowerhead), on which we collected 3 weevil species. Near the town Starusel very good place for YST: we suggest to return back next spring for Psylliodes. On the way to Sofia, near Ihtiman, we found a large population  of Onopordum (2-3 varieties): collected 5 Psylliodes.
Arrived in Kaysery (Turkey) on July 14. Visited the PPW Kayseri site: collected few samples of PPW for eriophyid mite detection. Travelling through Incesu Lake, Aksalur, Urgup, Sarhinan, towards Philip’s vineyard and Connie’s fields, we collected cheatgrass (seeds and green plants), additional PPW for eriophyid mite detection, TACA seeds for DNA (very big plants), one sawfly larva on PPW, some green leaves of Isatis (very few plants still green, nothing was recorded later in the hotel). In the area near Cavusin collected  with the umbrella technique 3-4 species of weevils, one species of Criptocephalinae and one single Bruchidae. Detected a large infestation of mites. At Connie’s house we checked the plants of the Isatis test: recorded some mortality, but still 43 were alive; harvested the Isatis experiment. At the Russian olive impact test site, we harvested the whole experiment, recording the infestation data. Back at the Alhagi site we collected fresh cuttings infested with eriophid mites. Comments: the trip was very complicate because the big political problems in Turkey. We decided to anticipate the harvest of the 3 open field tests we were carrying out in Turkey because we are not sure when and if we will return back.
Field trip in Serbia (August 21 - 24, 2016)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Meeting at Belgrade University with R. Petanovic, B. Vidovic and D. Smiljanic. After a short discussion about several projects and after giving the artichoke plants to Biljana, we started to do some collections for the mite on Ambrosia. First site in Zemun area: collected some ragweed plants (very little symptoms); no eriophyid mites found. In the town of Novi Belgrade collected eriophyid mites on Russian olive for CABI. Rendez-vous  with B. Rector at the University. We decided to return back to the 2013 sites near Dici and Ljig (about 80 km South-West of Belgrade): also there we did not find clear symptoms on the ragweed plants. Planning work and budget  for next year. D. Smiljanic was able to find a site near Zemun with ragweed heavily infested with eriophyid mites; we went there to perform the collection. Given to B. Rector dry samples of TACA, YST (leaves and seeds for M.C. Bon) and cheatgrass.
Field trip in Iran (August 29 - September 4, 2016)
by M. Cristofaro
Meeting at the University with cooperator R. Sobhian and with Dr. A. Dadkhodale, Dr. E. Tavakol and Dr. A. Alemzade. General discussion about the MoU project and the research. Travel to a site in the town of Shiraz where we recorded Acacia salicina (coming from Africa but originated from Australia) with some mite symptoms on the leaves. Moved 20 km North, where we found Russian olive with some feeding on the leaves (Altica??) and a good eriophyid mite attack (collected samples). Found at the site also Alhagi showing an important mite attack. Recorded and collected as well YST seeds for DNA. Travelling North in direction of Sepidan, we collected TACA and cheatgrass for DNA tests, recorded and collected one specimen of female Diorhabda sp. on saltcedar, recorded 2 plants of Russian olive (one looks resistant the eriophyid mite, while the other one -bigger- showed some light symptoms). Found Chondrilla juncea, heavily infested with eriophyid mites; collected seeds and flowers from 5 plants for DNA analyses. In the town of Sisakht recorded a different species of Elaeagnus. Recorded Coniatus sp. on Tamarix sp. on the way back to Shiraz: collected 5 specimens for DNA analysis. In direction East from the University field station in Shiraz, recorded Salsola tragus, as well some TACA and some YST. Along the road to Persepolis recorded Alhagi and Tamarix sp., collected some hemipteran (Tingidae?) on Alhagi and 5-6 Diorhabda leaf beetles (showing a gregarious behaviour). Recorded on Alhagi the largest impact by eriophyid  mites. Nothing has been recorded on Tamarix. Visit at the University Field Station: it is a full valley of 2700 hectares! Everything is very well organized by Dr. M. Edalat. Recorded Alhagi  with eriophyid mites and damage by Diorhabda sp.(collected some seeds), recorded cheatgrass (collected sample) and Onopordum, found medusahead (large population), but too late to collect samples. Recorded on the only Russian olive of the field station an incredible infestation of the mite. All the Alhagi plants nearby were heavily attacked by eriophyid mites (collected samples for cooperator R. Petanovic).
15/11/2015, 23:42


 Serbia, Turkey, USA, Iran , Italy (Sicilia), Turkey , Armenia, Iran , Uzbekistan

Field trip in Turkey (April 15- 17, 2015)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Meeting in Kayseri with our cooperators Kahraman Gürcan and Evrim Karacetin at the Erciyes University. Discussed several topics and visited the greenhouse where the test plants were located (in very good conditions). Met the student who is going to help René Sforza (EBCL) in the field work for medusahead. Purchased 20 Russian olives (300 TL) in plant nursery very close to the University. Travel towards Cappadocia: along the road from Kayseri to Avanos found old medusahead and some seedlings, with a very abundant rust; collected other seedlings (with still the seed) to check for mites and for DNA analysis; collected some young grasses (probably medusahead) plus a small sample of wheat (cultivated nearby). In Göreme visit to our German cooperator Connie to discuss the experiment and to check the situation at experiments field plots; medusahead is very abundant at the site. We also went at Philip’s vineyard: no medusa, but 10 Russian olive plants in good shape. Also checked some of the sites nearby for YST: rosettes were big and abundant, but without Certapion basicorne (both adults and larvae). Back in Kayseri we stopped at the PPW site: the PPW population is very big and the plants are in good shape (collected some plants showing -maybe- mite symptoms). Returned back the rental car at 18:00 and took a flight to Istanbul. Met Enrico De Lillo and his wife Susanna in Istabul at the airport.
Field trip in Iran (April 18-24, 2015)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Visit to our cooperator Parisa Lotfallai’s in Tabriz. Traveling direction north: found Tamarix, Salsola, Alhagi just outside the town of Tabriz; on Tamarix sp. collected 3 Coniatus sp. Along the same road, near the town Soofian, found medusa-head, Bromus, Alhagi and Tamarix ; collected some plantlets of medusa-head (with the seed) for mite detection. Found PPW with a chrysomelid larva (Galeruca sp.?) on the leaves along the road between Marand and Hadishahr; collected larvae and leaves for genetic analysis. In the town of Jolfa found a large population of Tamarix sp.: collected one Coniatus (very green) and several (very elongated) Diorhabda sp. (both in ETOH 95%) + one Sphenoptera (for Mark Volkovitz). Also found 3 Salsola spp. (collected 2 weevil species) and young Alhagi plants. Along the Aras river found Isatis tinctoria with a large infestation of weevils (collected). Meeting in at the University of Tabriz with Dr. Ajami and Dr. Salahshur: we reviewed the agreement and set up the meeting for next day. In April 21, long day at the university: presented both seminars (E. De Lillo and M. Cristofaro), interviews with Iranian television, visit at the University facilities . Then drove west towards the Urmia Lake: we did not reach the lake because too dangerous for the weather (sand storm) and returned back to Tabriz. Drove East in the direction of Caspian Sea (town of Astara) without finding any Arundo donax ( and no-saltcedar as well). Found some small patch of Arundo donax at about 12 km North of Bandar-e Anzali; recorded LASIO on some plants (small infestation). Collected samples for DNA, and other material (rhizomes and leaves) for eventual hidden damage. Collected as well nematodes on Ailanthus roots. On the way back, at about 160 km East of Tabriz, collected 7 Coniatus (maybe two species) and one Diorhabda sp. on Tamarix sp.
Field trip in Turkey (June 16- 23, 2015)
by M. Augé, M. Cristofaro, D. De Simone, F. Di Cristina, L. Gültekin, F. Marini and S. Stutz
Aims of this trip were: meeting at Kayseri University with our cooperator K. Gürcan about MEDUSA (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) project; harvesting of PPW (Lepidium latifolium) plants to look for mites (Metaculus lepidifolii); visit to the experimental field plots in Cappadocia, Central Turkey, to supervise plants preparation for the open field test. During the trip from Kayseri to Cappadocia collected LALA (Larinus latus, around 30) for release on experimental fields. Harvest of MEDUSA (around 50 samples) in order to look for mites. Visit at the YST/ONO experimental field of our German cooperator Connie in Ibrahimpaşa, to have a look on plant survival and stages. a) YST/ONO (Centaurea solstitialis/Onopordum acanthium) plot: the plants are young at the moment, only few plants have capitula. b) PPW plot: the plants are in good conditions, but in that case also several plants are still too young for experimental purpose. Released 34 LALA on Onopordum spp. plants; prepared 83 bouquets with samples of PPW infested by mites and infested PPW plot in Connie’s field: all plants, excepted one, were infested. Last collection for LAFI: finally, we own 50 LAFI and released 25 LAFI on YST plants of experimental plot in Connie’s fields. F. Di Cristina, M. Augé and D. De Simone went in Çavuşin - Zelve (1010 m) for collection of Curculionidae on Alhagi spp. and in Sarihan (983 m) for harvest of PPW plants to look for mites. Back in Kayseri, last meeting with K. Gürcan: left to him 32 LALA for release on ONO plants in his field, 25 LAFI for storing until next release and a microscope. Finally, shown how to take the measures on the YST/ONO plants in the experimental field and explained the protocol for the release of the insects.
Field trip in Iran (June 27- 28, 2015)
by D. De Simone
Met in Mashad our Iranian cooperator Asadi Ghorbanali Ferdowsi; travel in direction North Khorasan (980 mt height): found a lot of Tamarix plants along a dried-up river: checked about 40 plants, but none of them was infested. Checked about 30 plants of Chondrilla growing along the road in a very hard soil, no infestation; collected petals from 5 plants, without seedlings and rust. Nearby an other Tamarix site with about 10 plants: collected 5 Coniatus spp. (in EtOH 96°). Road between Tudeh and Sisab: checked a big Tamarix site: no infestation found. North-west from Shirvan (1160 mt height) other Chondrilla site: very hard soil, collected flowers and seeds on 5 plants. Between Shirvan and Tudeh (1062 mt height), checked about 30 Chondrilla plants: no damage on roots, plant with no flowers and seeds; also found some dried-up medusa-head. Found infested Russian olive along the road between Tudeh and Zoeram (1168 mt h); collected a bouquet for Urs Schaeffner (CABI). Also found Alhagi plants with first signs of mites infestation (no galls); collected samples (in EtOH 70°-96°). Road between Shirvan and Tudeh: found Acroptilon plants, collected a lot of capitula with mites (about 1000, to divide between Urs and the experimental field plot). Also Alhagi plants with mites (in EtOH 70°-96°). North from Shirvan, road to Honameh: collected petals and seeds from 5 Chondrilla plants (labels 1-5); on plants 3 and 4 also rust. Collected about 30 dried-up medusa-head (no green plants anywhere).
Field trip in Armenia (July 05-11, 2015)
by M. Cristofaro and F. Di Cristina
Arrived to Yeravan and met cooperator Mark Kalashian. We drove together towards the Khosrov State Reserve, where we organized the camp. Walked along the road near the camp at the last year medusahead site. Collected medusahead sample for DNA (very dry) and recorded Acrotilon repens with two damages: a new eriophyid mite? (on the leaves) and some insect damage on the flowerheads (collected a sample). Few km on the way back we found a good population of "giant" medusahead (collected sample for DNA). Next stop of the day at the last year Salsola site (few small plants). Also found Alhagi sp. with a very important eriophyid mite infestation (collected). Found as well a small weevil (very similar to what we already collected in Cappadocia).
Not far from the town of Vedi performed the sampling on YST (both plant material for DNA and 100 flowerheads). Moved towards the Goravan desert (black sand). Stopped immediately before the desert in correspondence of a population of Alhagi and 4 Russian olive trees. Found on Alhagi the leaf beetle Diorhabda prob. fischeri and 3 other weevils. Just one of the 4 Russian olive trees was attacked by eriophyid mites (collected next day). Reached the desert area and start the Oporopsamma collection on Chondrilla juncea (about 80 pupae); some mites on RSW (symptoms maybe different from A. chondrillae). Found 5 weevils on Salsola. Collected medusa plants for DNA analysis and some seeds of Crupina sp. Back to Yerevan, in order to drop the collected material at Kalashian’s home in cool conditions. In the Gorge of Noravank, immediately after the town of Areni., collected 3 weevil species on Centaurea behen (2 Larinus spp. and probably one Rhinocyllus sp.) and medusahead plants for DNA. Collected on Tamarix sp. a small weevil (Apioninae). We met a team of Botanists, one from Armenia (Dr. George Fayvush, Botany Institute, Yerevan) and another from Vienna, Austria (Dr. Ernst Vitek, Vienna Museum) and discussed with them about Ventenata dubia;  we agreed to receive information from them (target weed is present in Armenia). Going back to Yerevan collected some Rhinocyllus sp. on Cirsium sp. (transferred in acetone for DNA analysis).
Field trip in Turkey (July 24-31, 2015)
by D. De Simone, F. Marini and M. Augé
Aim of the trip was to visit the experiments fields in Ortahisar (Connie’s house) and to collect samples of Chondrilla, Alhagi and other project plants. On YST plot took measures on all plants and harvested mature capitula from each plant; many YST plants are young, some of them still have several buds and young flowers. Sampling on Chondrilla (RSW) between Ortahisar and Űrgűp; checked the roots of about 25 plants and collected several samples. No possible to collect seeds and flowers for all plants, because many of them are too young. No rust found. Sampling on RSW in a site near Gőreme; collected several samples. Moreover, harvested some seeds of Taeniatherum caput-medusae. Worked on wild Centaurea solstitialis (YST) plants: recording of measures (height, collar root diameter, growth stage) from 5 plants to compare them with YST plants in experimental field and harvesting of capitula from them (10 or more for each plant). Also harvested some seeds of Bromus tectorum. In direction of Ortahisar (Gűvercinlik) collected only two samples of RSW because the plants are not still in flowering. Found plants of Alhagi and RSW (left Ortahisar, along the road to Goynűk): no possible to check the roots of RSW, because the soil is quite hard. Collected samples of Alhagi (symptoms of mites attack on flowers). Back to Gőreme, also collected capitula (10 for each plant) from wild YST plants. Left Gőreme in the direction of Başdere, collected MEDUSA and Bromus’s seeds, found several plants of Alhagi, but they are not in flowering yet. Worked on Lepidium latifolium (PPW) at Connie’s experimental field. Left Cappadocia, direction Kayseri. In Kayseri swamp collected roots of wild PPW plants with normal shape or with two different symptoms of mites attack ("bubbles" - TYPE II, and "classic" - TYPE I). Back in Kayseri University to work on experimental fields: the PPW plot has not been infested, therefore can be destroyed (Kaharaman’s team will do it). The YST/ONO experimental field has been infested only with adults of Larinus latus (LALA), nobody LAFI has been released in it. Moreover, no-target plants are still too young. For these reasons this year nothing will be do on the YST/ONO plot in Kayseri.
Field trip in Turkey (Aug 24-27, 2015)
by M. Cristofaro and M.Guedj
Meeting with our German cooperator Connie at her house, where we discussed with her, his friend Gökhan and some friends from New Zealand the future work for this year and next season. We agreed to communicate at the end of September (after my visit at the EBCL), in order to set up the work for the next season. Afterwords, we returned back at the Connie’s field where we closed the YST+ONO experiment, harvesting all the YST, safflower, Onopordum and C. americana plants left by Matthew, Francesca and Daniele. Found a huge numbers of capitula on YST (collected only the senescent ones). We took out from the soil all the YST plants and we recorded the up-date situation at the plot (most of the Cirsium spp: were dead). Collected as well some Chondrilla roots at the site (found a root boring moth -pupal stage). At Connie’s field plot we take out all the harvest YST plants. We drove to Camusin site to collect some Russian olive infested with eriophyid mites. Then drove to Kayseri and we met Kahraman at the Erciyes University. After a short visit at the laboratories, we discussed about future plans together.
Field trip in Sicily (Aug 31 - Sept 10, 2015)
by M. Cristofaro, R. Buonopera and S. Arnone
First site along the road to Mt. Etna: collected medusa-head (some plants with a strange damage, maybe due to pathogens), Bromus sp. and Chondrilla. Second site along the same road (about 5 km above): we found medusa-head (without symptoms), Bromus sp., Cytisus sp. (with mites) and Chondrilla (with a damage on the roots). Third site near the town of Motta Camastra, along the Alcantara Gorge: found a large population of Tamarix heavily infested by the scale; collected 3 Coniatus sp. (collected and preserved in ETOH 95%).
The forth site of the trip near Noto, along the beach of the small village Marzamemi: recorded Salsola soda and S. kali in large populations. Most of the Russian thistle plants were heavily infected by a Puccinia rust, while the other Salsola sp. was healthy. At the same site in Marzamemi collected on Tamarix sp. plants Coniatus sp. (one specimen collected, one missing), plus another weevil (Corimalia sp.?) and one small yellow flea-beetle (the last two preserved in ETOH 70%).
Field trip in Iran (Sept 11-18, 2015)
by M. Augé and F. Marini
Met Parisa Lotfallai in Tabriz and went in the Azarbaijan Shahid Madani University. Checked some plants of Tamarix sp. and found several cocoons on them. Meeting with the boss of Parisa about present and future partnerships between them and BBCA onlus. After the reunion, started the sampling inside of University. Collected seeds and flowers from 5 different plants of Chondrilla juncea (RSW), for genetic analysis. Checked the RSW’s roots and found two tubes on one of them. Found symptoms of mites attack on RWS, took some pieces of plant and     gave them to Parisa. Detected plants of Alhagi sp. and harvested several samples: seeds, pieces of plants with symptoms of mites attack, larvae of Chrysomelidae (brought alive in Rome) and adults of Diorhabda sp. (brought alive in Rome). Finally, found one adult of Lixus sp. on Alhagi. Observed many cocoons and galls on SALT.
Trip in USA (Oct 2015)
by M. Cristofaro, F. Marini and M. Augé
BBCA attended the NAISMA (North America Invasive Species Management Association) Conference Agenda in Vancouver (Oct 19-22, 2015), the MWCA (Montana Weeds Control Association) Biological Control Working Group in Chico Hot Springs (Oct 28-29, 2015) and the 24th Annual Cal-IPC (California Invasive Plant Council) Symposia in San Diego (Oct 28-31, 2015).
Field trip in Turkey (Nov 08-10, 2015)
by M. Cristofaro and M. Guedj
We met our cooperator Kahraman at the University and drove at the site near the Armenian churches and collected several seeds of medusa-head. Then we went to the PPW site near Kayseri churches: collected seeds of PPW (plant population very low due to the heavy grazing). Returned back at the University where we checked the two field plots where we organized the experiment in 2015: PPW, Cirsium and artichokes were in good conditions. Discussed several topics: projects for next year (PPW, TACA, YST & ALHAGI). Michèle was taking some YST seeds from the Turkish capitula collected together last August. Asked Kahraman to cut off some flowers (one plant of Cirsium in the field) make some plastic tunnels on the test plants in the plots, in order to protect them in order to have plants in good shape during next year. All the capitula collected in August (and the ones from Cirsium) should be treated by autoclave. We also discussed the possibility to have Kahraman involved in a biomolecular project and about next year agreement .
Trip in Serbia (Nov 10 -12, 2015)
by M. Cristofaro and M. Guedj
Meeting at the University with Radmila Petanovic, Biljana Vidovic and Dragica Smiljanic, discussing last year plans and next year activities. We discussed about Acroptilon sp. from Iran and about the issues of our Iranian cooperator P. Lothfollai and of Italian cooperator E. De Lillo (including the new COST project and the mite on Ailanthus altissima), Metaculus sp. on Isatis. Next year they will work with BBCA for Medusa, PPW and (eventually) on Sahara mustard. Preliminary work on the Research Agreement that will be signed (together with CABI) for next year activities. Short meeting with the Serbian team, mainly focussed on Rapistrum. They showed to us pictures and alive (dry) material collected in Belgrade area. Received some seeds, in order to have plant material to better recognize the plant in nature. We also discussed about the way how to record mite histological damage on medusa-head: sheaves with mites (heavy infestations) must be transferred in vials with a 50% ETOH solution, in order to perform histological observations on seeds.

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