Using evolutionary tools to facilitate the prediction and prevention of host-based differentiation in biological control: a review and perspective



A.E. Vorsino, Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 3050 Maile Way, Gilmore 310, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.



The unprecedented success of biological control (biocontrol) agents led some of the proponents of this technology to promote its use as a panacea for all pest problems. Following an accumulation of non-target host interactions, because of generalist or new association introductions, techniques to help ensure classical biocontrol agent's success and reduce non-target interactions were implemented. Even with these new measures in place, public and scientific mistrust and lack of consistency has resulted in increased regulation of biocontrol introductions. This has likely decreased the probability of effective, sustainable control measures being expeditiously implemented. With the current apprehension concerning the safety of biocontrol, we should incorporate the processes (adaptation, selection, etc.) and theoretical concepts of evolutionary biology to predict and enhance the effectiveness of biocontrol. The microevolutionary perspective that involves mutation, drift, selection and gene flow may be a crucial consideration in the realm of biocontrol. Here, we discuss how and why spatial and evolutionary models should be implemented into future risk assessment analyses of potential biocontrol agents. We suggest that it is necessary to re-assess the approach that has developed over the past approximately 100 years of sustained releases and illuminate them in the context of an evolutionary timescale.