Climate mismatch between introduced biological control agents and their invasive host plants: Improving biological control of tropical weeds in temperate regions

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title



Many weed biological control programs suffer from large-scale spatial variation in success due to restricted distributions or abundances of agents in temperate climates. For some of the world’s worst aquatic weeds, agents are established but overwintering conditions limit their survival in higher latitudes or elevations. The resulting need is for new or improved site-or region-specific biological control tools. Here, we review this challenge with a focus on low-temperature limitations of agents and propose a roadmap for improving success. Investigations across spatial scales, from global (e.g., foreign exploration), to local (selective breeding), to individual organisms (molecular modification), are discussed. A combination of traditional (foreign) and non-traditional (introduced range) exploration may lead to the discovery and development of better-adapted agent genotypes. A multivariate approach using ecologically relevant metrics to quantify and compare cold tolerance among agent populations is likely required. These data can be used to inform environmental niche modeling combined with mechanistic modeling of species’ fundamental climate niches and life histories to predict where, when, and at what abundance agents will occur. Finally, synthetic and systems biology approaches in conjunction with advanced modern genomics, gene silencing and gene editing technologies may be used to identify and alter the expression of genes enhancing cold tolerance, but this technology in the context of weed biological control has not been fully explored.



Publication Date



Open Access, Gold, Green

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