Urban Center

Turfgrass Research Program



Associate Professor, Turfgrass Entomology & Applied Ecology

Research Areas

Dr. Richmond’s research program is centered on the biology, ecology and management of turfgrass insects. His research program focuses on tritrophic interactions within the context if integrating cultural and biological management tools and developing novel insecticide products and strategies for managing destructive insects. Dr. Richmond’s work with Neotyphodium fungal endophytes of grasses provides a unique platform to investigate tritrophic interactions that may translate directly into biologically based tools for pest management. In cooperation with researchers in New Zealand (AgResearch), Dr. Richmond is examining a series of novel endophyte strains that produce known endophyte-mediated defensive alkaloids, and has been able to identify alkaloids that play a key role in insect resistance. Interestingly, the alkaloids necessary for insect resistance are not the same alkaloids that are responsible for livestock toxicosis. Therefore, it may be possible to deploy endophyte-enhanced turf and forage grasses that resist insect pests while remaining safe for wildlife and other grazing vertebrates. The development and deployment of such grasses will provide an important step toward improving sustainability by reducing the environmental footprint of man-made green spaces and other urban development. Dr. Richmond’s research also examines how fertility inputs influence the expression of endophyte-mediated alkaloids and interactions between insect pests and biological controls. This work has resulted in a synthetic framework that describes how variation in insect response to endophyte-mediated alkaloids may influence interactions between insect pests and their natural enemies. Dr. Richmond is also collaborating with USDA populations geneticists to develop a DNA-based identification tool for billbug larvae that damage turfgrass. The development of such a tool is a critical first step in the process of understanding billbug seasonal ecology.

Current Research Projects

  • Endophyte-mediated resistance to insects as a function of plant cultivar and endophyte strain
  • Influence of plant mineral balance on endophyte-plant-insect interactions
  • Unraveling billbug seasonal ecology to improve management: Developing a DNA-based larval identification tool

Long-term Research Goals

Dr. Richmond’s long- term research goal is to enhance the sustainability of turfgrass by:

  • Reducing the non-target impacts of insect pest management practices.
  • Developing effective biologically based alternatives to insecticides.
  • Incorporating cultural and biological tactics and understanding the basis for interactions between these different sets of management tools.

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