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UW Grasshopper Expert Receives Prestigious Visiting Research Fellowship

January 14, 2009
Alexandre Latchininsky

An entomologist in the University of Wyoming's College of Agriculture has been awarded a University of Sydney International Visiting Research Fellowship to study the effects of fungal infections on locust behavior in Australia.

The fellowship provides $20,000 (Australian) and covers the round-trip airfare and living allowance for 12 weeks. The fellowship will allow Alexandre Latchininsky, an associate professor in the Department of Renewable Resources and UW extension entomologist, to conduct locust research in Australia this fall. He will collaborate with renowned colleagues from the University of Sydney's School of Biological Sciences, Gregory Sword and Steve Simpson.

"The International Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Sydney provides an exciting opportunity to do research, the results of which will be mutually beneficial for Australian and North American growers and far beyond," says Latchininsky.

Latchininsky, who is president of the U.S. National Grasshopper Management Board and an international consultant on locusts for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, says Australia is the world leader in the theory and practice of locust biological control.

The research strategy uses an indigenous isolate of a fungal pathogen. The biological insecticide based on this fungus is called Green Guard. It represents a suspension of fungal spores in vegetable oil and is successfully applied to vast rangeland areas against the Australian plague locust.

"Application of Green Guard ensures efficient and ecologically safe crop protection from locusts," says Latchininsky. "It is the only product authorized for use in organically grown cattle and crops. Organic produce is an ever-growing sector of agricultural production in Australia intended primarily for export to the U.S., Europe and Japan."

The proposed research in Australia is directly linked to the ongoing studies in Wyoming that investigate the effectiveness of the North American strain of the same fungal pathogen, says Latchininsky. The project is a joint effort of Latchininsky's research group at the University of Wyoming, Utah State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney, Mont.

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2009

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