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International Darwin Day

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“The Role of Evolution in Management of Insect Pests and Crops”

11:40AM – 12:00PM ISE Lab Room 315

Keith R. Hopper, USDA Agricultural Research Service.

“The Role of Evolution in Management of Insect Pests and Crops”

Abstract: Evolution plays a critical role in the management of insect pests of crops. Mankind has molded the genomes of a limited number of plant species to suit our needs for nutritious, highly productive crops. Some species of herbivorous insects have evolved to exploit these crops, while close relatives have not. Evolution to feed on plants that produce various protective chemicals has enabled insects to rapidly evolve resistance to insecticides. Parasitic wasps have evolved to attack herbivores on crops, and such parasitoids are being introduced to control exotic pests, like soybean aphid and Russian wheat aphid. However, these parasitoids may evolve to attack non-target aphid species. The likelihood of such evolution depends on the genetic architecture of host specificity. Bio: Dr. Keith R. Hopper received his B.A. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis. After teaching as a visiting lecturer at the University of California, Davis, Dr. Hopper went to work for the Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, first in Stoneville, Mississippi, then in Behoust and Montpellier, France, and now in Newark, Delaware. Throughout his career, Dr. Hopper has worked on the ecology and evolution of parasitic wasps and their use in biological control of pest insects.

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