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Pale larvae sits on a half -cut apple with rotten, brown patches on its cutting face
Institute for Biological Control

Inhalt: Biological control strategies of harmful organisms

Control of plant pests

Important antagonists of harmful insects, mites and nematodes are beneficial insects, such as predators or parasitoids, mites and entomopathogenic nematodes. Also, causative agents of specific diseases of pests, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms, are considered useful. The macro- and microbial antagonists are highly selective and have little to no effects on non-target organisms. They are an important resource of biological control and thus the basis of particularly environmentally friendly plant protection methods.

Control of Plant Diseases

A basic way to prevent the occurrence of plant diseases (caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses), is to grow robust or resistant plant varieties. However, there is often not a sufficient range of resistant varieties available. Hence, biological control products can help to reduce the use of chemical-synthetic active ingredients.

Plant diseases can be counteracted by applying microbial antagonists, i.e. bacteria or fungi. Such antagonists may differ greatly in their mode of action and in their specificity; i.e. they can have a suppressive effect due to strong growth or may produce active substances (metabolites) that inhibit the growth of plant pathogens or even kill them. Depending on the mode of action, intact microorganisms or certain metabolites are used as biological control agents.

There are numerous crop protection products whose mode of action is based on microbial antagonists. We are investigating the use of such alternatives to replace or supplement chemical-synthetic and copper-based active ingredients in integrated and organic farming. Some natural substances are already commercialized as biological control agents, others can be considered as potential alternatives. Therefore, we investigate new approaches for plant protection as well as plant strengthening based on natural substances. We further explore the possibility of using biostimulants to enhance crop plants from non-biotic stress.

Scientists working in this field