Lantana (Lantana camara and affiliates) has been targeted for the initial systematics and diversity studies. Originating in the Americas, Lantana is now a serious weed of natural environments, pastures, and farmland throughout the tropics and sub-tropics. Heavy lantana infestations occur along almost the entire East coast of Australia and patchy outbreaks occur in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Biological control is the only practical method of controlling this weed, yet although many (> 41 worldwide and 28 within Australia) biocontrol agents have been applied little success has been achieved. Research is needed to determine the origins and genetics of the many Lantana varieties that have been introduced to Australia so as to properly target biocontrol agent discovery efforts.
We are conducting research on Lantana with three overarching objectives:
The project is using the collection resources of the Australian National Herbarium and its partner agencies in the Taxonomy Research & Information Network (TRIN) together with those of weed management agencies. We maintain an active collaboration with entomologist Dr Michael Day of QLD Department of Primary Industries. We are employing a variety of molecular genetic techniques, including DNA sequencing, microsatellites and AFLPs, in order to identify genetic markers for analysis of the evolution and introduction history of lantana. We intend to adapt and employ these techniques for use in the study of the origins and relationships of the progenitors of other introductions to Australia and the implications for selection of biocontrol agents.
Visit the National Research & Information Network (TRIN) website for Lantana