Visit from Africa to Darmstadt: 27 scholarship holders from eleven African countries visited the Institute for Biological Control in Darmstadt...
Nature offers numerous antagonists of plant pests and diseases. Beyond lady beetles and parasitoid wasps, biological control recruits a broad spectrum of organisms and biological substances: naturally occurring bacteria, fungi and viruses, predatory and parasitic insects, predatory mites and insect pathogenic nematodes but also plant extracts can be used to produce healthy plants and to prevent damage from nature.
The Institute for Biological Control oft he JKI is the only research institute in Germany, dedicated to the whole spectrum of disciplines in biological control of plant pests and diseases. It plays a key role in developing and evaluating methods that are based on natural antagonists for plant pests and disease control.
The institute research evolves around:
Biological plant protection is an important component of integrated pest management, where biological, chemical, physical and cultivation measures are combined for an efficient and environmentally friendly pest control. Biological control methods are of particular importance in organic production, where the application of chemical pesticides is not allowed. Furthermore, they can be used as an alternative to close control gaps. As part of the European efforts to reduce the use of chemical pesticides, biological control measures play an increasingly important role in plant protection practice.
Biological control of wireworms (Agriotes spp.) in potato cultivation using the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum - this was the PhD thesis of Mr. Maximilian Paluch who successfully defended his PhD on 29.11.2021 at the Technical University of Darmstadt. Congratulations! Within the AgriMet project, Max investigated two new formulations of M. brunneum to control wireworms in potato plantations. In laboratory, greenhouse and field experiments he identified several key factors which have a strong impact on the effectiveness of M. brunneum in field use and which need to be addressed in the development of a sustainable wireworm control strategy. Currently, Dr. Paluch is working at our institute and investigates the production and formulation of antagonistic fungi for the control of phytopathogenic nematodes. This new project is also a cooperation with other JKI institutes and practitioners.
This motto is followed in international project "Preparedness in biological control of priority biosecurity threats" funded by the Euphresco program: guidelines for a preventive assessment of natural enemies for biocontrol of invasive pests are to be jointly drafted. These evaluation steps will then be tested "theoretically", using internationally significant case studies, for their feasibility. The common goal is to establish an active network for the exchange of information in future decision-making processes on use of invertebrate biological control agents for plant protection.
Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) as effective antagonists of tomato pests in Egypt - this was the aim of the dissertation of Mr. Mokhtar Abonaem, which he successfully defended in summer at the Technical University of Darmstadt. Congratulations on this achievement! As a DAAD scholarship holder, Dr. Abonaem selected and tested various EPNs for their suitability in controlling different noctuid moths, tomato leaf miner and whitefly, and tested different formulation and application methods. In the meantime, Mr. Abonaem has returned to the National Plant Protection Research Centre at Cairo and is continuing his work there in optimizing the use of these biological control agents under field conditions in Egypt.
Fifteen PhD students of the European project InsectDoctors met for the first time to attend the projects courses II – laboratory methods in insect pathology – and course IV – values and pitfalls of metagenomics for pathogen detection – at the French Institut national de recherche pour l'agriculture, l'alimentation et l'environnement (INRAE) in Jouy-en-Josas, France. In the two-weeks practical workshop the focus lay entirely on insect pathogens and how to detect them. The aim is to prepare the young scientists for their tasks during their PhD and for their future career.
The codling moth granulovirus (CpGV) is an important biological control agent for codling moth control in integrated and organic apple production. Yet, some pest populations developed resistance against the virus. In our recent publication „Cross-Resistance of the Codling Moth against Different Isolates of Cydia pomonella Granulovirus Is Caused by Two Different but Genetically Linked Resistance Mechanisms” we demonstrate the functional differences of type I and type II CpGV resistance as well as which CpGV isolates are suitable to overcome these resistances.
The army fall worm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is an invasive pest species to Africa and Asia, which caused especially in Africa dramatic crop infestations during the last years. In a co-operation with research partners from Benin, a new baculovirus from field samples from Nigeria was isolated and fully sequenced. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that the new SfMNPV isolate is closely related to South-American virus isolates suggesting that the virus was introduced to West-.Africa together with the host S. frugiperda. Publication Genome Sequence of a Spodoptera frugiperda Multiple Nucleopolyhedrovirus Isolated from Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) in Nigeria, West Africa.
In August a JKI co-worker has initiated crossing experiments between different lines of codling moth, Cydia pomonella, which had been selected at LRC for different voltinism behavior. Aim of the project is to identify the molecular determinants steering the diapause and thus the number of codling moth generations produced during the vegetation season. This project will allow an improved evaluation of the influence of global warming on the damaging potential of this pest insect.