Potential role of botanic garden collections in predicting hosts
at risk globally from invasive pests: a case study using Scirtothrips
A. S. Scott-Brown
M. J. S. Simmonds
D. W. Collins
Received: 2 May 2017 / Revised: 17 August 2017 / Accepted: 5 September 2017 / Published online: 9 September 2017
Ó Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017
Abstract Increasing trade in plants and plant products
across continents heightens the risk of exotic insect pests
expanding geographically into new habitats. This threatens
not only the production and economic value of widely
traded crops but the survival of species grown or sought by
low-income communities. The ﬁrst European outbreak of
Scirtothrips dorsalis was detected in the Palm House col-
lections at Kew in 2007 and triggered a monitoring pro-
gram. This monitoring along with a robust review of the
literature brought together information on new and known
hosts for S. dorsalis. Further to this, we used molecular
characterization techniques to identify which proposed
cryptic species of S. dorsalis was present in this outbreak.
The study revealed that 39% of the species of plants among
the collections supported the proposed S. dorsalis South
Asia 1 cryptic species, with over 50% of those species
supporting immature life stages of the thrips conﬁrming
that they are suitable breeding hosts. Of particular impor-
tance are the newly identiﬁed hosts that are crops, and two
further hosts reported as endangered/critically endangered.
This study demonstrates the role that botanic garden col-
lections can play in generating host relationship data that
can feed into the development of robust predictive risk
assessments for invasive insects. This can provide plant
health authorities with the scientiﬁc basis for prioritizing
management plans to protect important, vulnerable crop
and non-crop plant species.
Keywords Chilli thrips Á Cryptic species Á Host list Á Host-
plant selection Á Molecular identiﬁcation Á Yellow tea thrips
• An outbreak of the invasive pest Scirtothrips dorsalis in
the Palm House at Kew Gardens provided a unique
opportunity to demonstrate the role that living plant
collections within botanic gardens can play in gener-
ating host relationship data for invasive insects.
• Detailed information was compiled on the host accep-
tance of a molecularly characterized population of S.
dorsalis with access to over 3000 plant species.
• New hosts with commercial and traditional use value
are identiﬁed, in addition to hosts that are endangered
The chilli thrips, Scirtothrips dorsalis Hood, is an invasive
pest species that naturally occurs in tropical and subtropical
Asia. Due to an increase in global trade of plants and plant
products, S. dorsalis is now accepted as established in
regions of Australia (Hoddle and Mound 2003), Africa
(Bournier 1999), North America (Hodges et al. 2005; Holtz
2006; Kumar et al. 2012), the Caribbean (Skarlinsky 2003),
South America, and Israel (Kumar et al. 2013; EPPO
Communicated by J.J. Duan.
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this
article (doi:10.1007/s10340-017-0916-2) contains supplementary
material, which is available to authorized users.
& A. S. Scott-Brown
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey TW9 3AB, UK
Fera, The National Agrifood Innovation Campus, Sand
Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, UK
J Pest Sci (2018) 91:601–611