Aphids are one of the most important insect pests in arable crops in Germany. Their importance has even increased in recent years. For an optimal aphid pest control, it is important to know their temporal and spatial occurrence and to correctly identify individual species. This identification, based on morphological features, is extremely time-consuming hence costly and, due to the complexity, requires high expertise, which is constantly disappearing. In the practice of pest insect monitoring, shortages of personnel often arise at the crop protection services during the peak of the migration phases. The aim of this project is to develop tools based on deep learning and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for an automated detection and classification of aphids from mass catches, such as suction traps or yellow pan traps. An AI offers extensive advantages for pest monitoring: 1) Significant reduction in processing time, largely independent of personnel, 2) Standardized results without individual personal errors, 3) Use of the AI at multiple locations, e.g. all crop protection services, 4) faster detection of invasive insect pests thanks to timely sample processing. All of these aspects will allow monitoring to be expanded in the future, including a further improvement of warnings.
The goal of this joint project is the improvement of existing, as well as establishment of novel defence mechanisms against diverse pests. Meloidogyne chitwoodi, a quarantine-status endoparasitic root knot nematode is one of the major pests of potatoes. PVY (potato virus Y) and PLRV (potato leaf roll virus) are the regulated non-quarantine viruses, which are transmitted by the aphids, e.g. Myzus persicae. The tendency for the reduction of pesticide use will result in a significant increase in the occurrence of PLRV, as aphids that have taken up PLRV-virions stay viruliferous for their entire life. In the potato germplasm there is a single gene originating from S. stoloniferum, which results in PVY immunity, which is, however, linked with male sterility. Therefore, new and complementary resistance sources need to be identified for both viruses. The tobacco rattle virus (TRV) is transmitted by ectoparasitic nematodes belonging to the genera Trichodorus and Paratrichodorus. As currently available nematicides show only limited control against these viral vectors, the efficient resistances originating from wild potato species need to be identified. Additionally, the project aims at development of novel levels of pathogen resistance. The efficient replication of PVY depends on successful hijacking of host translation mechanisms. Therefore, the inactivation of the translation initiation factor (eIF4e) results in the inhibition of viral replication. The efficiency of this approach against infection by PLRV and TRV will be tested as well. Following the damage to sieve elements in plants, sieve plates can be closed either temporarily by phloem proteins (P-proteins), or permanently by callose deposition. Inactivation of genes responsible for P-protein synthesis will result in permanent closure of sieve plates. This may prevent flow of nutrients towards the feeding site induced by M. chitwoodi, resulting in parasite starvation and leading to increased resistance.
Within the frame of this project anthropoid and plant pathogenic microorganisms and viruses of the JKI collections will be registered and characterized with respect to invasive species of cultured plants under climate change condition.The existing collections of microorganisms and viruses will be characterised with suitable molecular and microscopic techniques