Ruling out a host-range expansion as the cause of the unpredicted non-target attack on tagasaste (Chamaecytisus proliferus) by Bruchidius villosus
Haines Melanie, L.; Syrett Pauline; Emberson Rowan, M.; Withers Toni, M.; Fowler Simon, V.; Worner Sue, P.
Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) is a woody shrub of European origin that is an invasive weed in New Zealand. Bruchidius villosus was released in New Zealand in 1986 as a biological control agent of Scotch broom, after tests indicated that it was specific to this species. However, in 1999, B. villosus was discovered developing in the seeds of an unpredicted host, tagasaste or tree lucerne (Chamaecytisus proliferus). Although the original choice tests carried out in quarantine failed to predict acceptance of C. proliferus by ovipositing females, the current population in New Zealand clearly finds this species an acceptable host. An investigation of the original host-testing procedures revealed a number of possible limitations in the tests conducted in the 1980s. Concerns that a host-range expansion might have occurred in a weed biological control agent led to this study in which beetles from the original population (Silwood Park, United Kingdom) were reimported and the original handling and host choice tests were replicated. Despite showing a strong preference for Scotch broom, the beetles tested in this study accepted C. proliferus for oviposition. These results allow us to rule out the possibility that a hostrange expansion has occurred.... [Show full abstract]