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.
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.
Dr. Annette Herz
Dr. Dietrich Stephan
Dr. Regina Kleespies
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.
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.
Dr. Annette Herz
Carina Anette Ehrich (M.Sc.)