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Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)
Federal Research Centre
for Cultivated Plants

Prof. Dr. Johannes A. Jehle

Heinrichstraße 243
64287 Darmstadt, Germany

Ms Susanne Ganzer
Tel: +49(0)6151 407-0
Fax: +49(0)6151 407-290
E-mail: bi@  julius-kuehn.  de

Institute Flyer
Institute booklet

Functional biodiversity

Nature itself helps to control crop pests and pathogens by providing an enormous diversity of naturally occurring antagonists. An important focus of our research is to investigate how this free service of nature can be used, strengthened and saved for an efficient and sustainable agriculture. 

Due to their way of living, predators, parasites or pathogens fulfill certain functions in our agro-ecosystems by limiting the population growth of harmful organisms of crop plants. The type of land use, farming systems and material inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides may have a strong impact on the animal and plant communities as well as on the microcosm in- and outside of the agricultural and forestry cultivation. Thus, e.g. species richness and abundance of antagonists can change and interfere with the natural control mechanisms. We explore the needs of these organisms in order to provide agricultural practitioners with recommendations for their protection and strengthening. Biodiversity of natural antagonists also provides almost unlimited possibilities for innovative methods in biological control. You just need to know them and to know how to maintain and to use them.

Ecosystem services of natural antagonists

Woman tapping a tree with a stick and collecting the beneficials in a funnel
Tapping test in an orchard

Beneficial invertebrates, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms perform – though often unperceived - a very important ecosystem service by preventing the excessive growth of pest and pathogen populations. We develop concepts to capture this potential and to use it in agricultural practice.

Scientists involved:

Dr. Annette Herz
Dr. Dietrich Stephan
Dr. Regina Kleespies
Carina Ehrich

Biological and molecular characterization of insect pathogens

The biodiversity of microbial antagonists of pest insects is still poorly understood. We use modern methods of micro- and molecular biology to identify these antagonists and to describe them in their diversity.

1000 species for crop protection

Wasp sitting on the pupa
Ichneumon wasp parasitising the pupa of Drosophila suzukii

Many invertebrates can act as predators or parasites of pests. In order to utilize them for biological control, their life histories and environmental needs need to be known exactly. By gathering this knowledge, we develop strategies for the tailored and environmentally friendly use of beneficial organisms against "their" pest.


Scientists involved:

Dr. Annette Herz
Carina Anette Ehrich (M.Sc.)