Biological management of the invasive Vachellia nilotica ssp. indica (Benth.) Kyal. & Boatwr. (Fabales : Mimosoideae) in tropical Australia: Stress-inducing potential of Anomalococcus indicus Ramakrishna (Insecta: Hemiptera: Coccoidea: Lecanodiaspidid), an agent of promise

Anwar N Khan, Anamika Sharma, Anantanarayanan Raman, Kunjithapatham Dhileepan, Dennis S. Hodgkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Vachellia nilotica ssp. indica (hereafter, V. n. indica) is an important tree weed in Australia. Its dense populations induce undesirable changes in the vast areas of northern Australia. Because chemical and mechanical management options appear unviable for various reasons, biological management of this tree is considered a better option. Among the many trialled arthropods in Australian context, Anomalococcus indicus, a lecanodiaspid native to India, has been identified as a potent-candidate, since in India, its native terrain, it is the most widespread and occurs throughout the year. Severe infestations of A. indicus cause defoliation, wilting and death of branches, and occasionally the tree. Populations of A. indicus have been brought into Australia and are being tested for its host specificity under quarantine conditions. This article reports the physiological damage and stress it inflicts in the shoots of V. n. indica. Younger-nymphal instars of A. indicus feed on cortical-parenchyma cells of young stems, whereas the older instars and adults feed from the phloem of old stems. Two conspicuous responses of V. n. indica arising in response to the feeding action of A. indicus are changes in the cell-wall dynamics and irregular cell divisions. The feeding action of A. indicus elicits a sequence of reactions in the stem tissues of V. n. indica such as differentiation of thick-walled elements in the outer cortical parenchyma, differential thickening of cells with supernumerary layers of either suberin or lignin, proliferations of parenchyma and phloem, wall thickening and obliteration of inner lumen of phloem cells, and the sieve plates plugged with callosic deposits. The responses are the culminations of interaction between the virulence factor (one or more of the salivary proteins?) from A. indicus and the resistance factor in V. n. indica. We have analysed structural changes in the context of their functions, by comparing the feeding action of A. indicus with that of other hemipteroids. From the level of stress it induces, this study confirms that A. indicus has the potential to be an effective biological management of V. n. indica in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-75
Number of pages13
JournalArboricultural Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

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