Go to:
service menu

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

Head
Prof. Dr. Johannes A. Jehle

Address
Heinrichstraße 243
64287 Darmstadt, Germany

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

Download
Institute booklet

Biological control of pest organisms

Techniques of biological control are important components of integrated pest management (IPM). It combines biological, chemical and physical plant protection methods for an efficient and environmentally friendly pest control. In organic farming, biological pest control plays a crucial role, since treatments with synthetic chemical are not allowed.

Many pests and pathogens can be controlled by biological pesticides or beneficial organisms. About 80 commercially produced beneficial insects and 20 approved biological agents are available to control diseases and pests. Thus, the use of chemical pesticides can be reduced and an efficient and environmentally friendly crop protection is ensured. And biological control products do not leave undesirable chemical residues on the crop - an advantage which clearly pleases both the consumers and the environment. However, biocontrol is often more expensive and/or laborious.

Biological control of invasive pests

Open hand presenting larvae
Larvae of box tree moth (Cydalima perspectalis)

Harmful organisms for plants can become threatening and hardly controllable pests in agriculture and forestry in regions outside of their area of origin. Mostly introduced by human activities, and probably released from any control by specialized natural enemies, they can spread easily and can reach high population densities. The methods of biological control can help to solve these new plant protection problems.

Scientists involved:
Dr. Annette Herz
Prof. Dr. Johannes Jehle
Dr. Brigitte Keller
Dr. Regina Kleespies
Dr. Eckhard Koch

Biological control of soil pests

worm against black background
Wireworm infested by insect-pathogenic fungus

For the control of different soil pests,  such as grubs of cock chafers, wireworms and caterpillars of owlet moths, biological control strategies are developed. To this end, micro-organisms and viruses are isolated, formulated and tested with additives. The search for suitable beneficial arthropods like predatory beetles and mites also plays a very important role for soil pests.

Scientists involved:
Dr. Annette Herz
Prof. Dr. Johannes Jehle
Dr. Regina Kleespies
Dr. Dietrich Stephan
Dr. Jörg T. Wennmann

Potential of antagonistic microorganisms against phytopathogens

three rows of pots with pea plants
Soil-borne fungus F. solani on pea (three trial variants)

Microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi cause economically important plant diseases. In nature, they interact with other naturally occurring microorganisms. These competitive relationships are used to develop biological products to control plant diseases.

Scientists involved:
Dr. Eckhard Koch

Biological methods for reducing the use of copper

leaves with brown lesions
Tomato late blight

Plant protection products containing copper have been used to combat fungal diseases of a number of crops since the mid 19th century. Especially organic farming still depends on copper-containing products, as these are the only approved pesticides against several very important plant pathogens. However, because copper also has negative environmental impacts, there is a clear objective to further reduce its use. Here, biological agents are a way forward to help reduce copper in crop protection.

Scientists involved:
Dr. Annegret Schmitt

Environmental effects of biological control methods

Petri dish

In addition to the control of the pest organism, the effect of biocontrol agents on the environment must be taken into account. This includes issues of longevity, the ability to compete with other organisms and their interrelationship. Also possible unintended effects on non-target organisms must be evaluated. This applies particularly to non-resident beneficial insects.

Scientists involved:
Dr. Annette Herz
Prof. Dr. Johannes Jehle
Dr. Brigitte Keller
Dr. Regina Kleespies
Dr. Eckhard Koch
Dr. Annegret Schmitt
Dr. Dietrich Stephan