Know Your Enemy: Genomes of biological control agents

PhD defence

Population genomics of natural enemies

Summary:

Biological control is the use of an organism, the biological control agent (BCA), to control the population of another organism, the pest. While BCAs are used around the world and in a variety of agricultural contexts, increasing the uptake would be beneficial to key goals of sustainable agriculture. In order to do so, there is the desire for improving BCAs, either in terms of their production, their performance, or the reduction of non-target effects after release. One way to improve BCAs is to use a genetics approach with next-generation sequencing and genomics. This thesis and the work within involved generating genomic results and resources for five biological control agents (including a predatory mite, two parasitoid wasps, and a predatory mirid bug), complete with context and suggestions for future directions. This thesis is also intended to act as a sort of guidebook for biological control practitioners considering genome projects.