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EurekAlert

NEWS RELEASE 6-JAN-2021

Researchers discover how a bio-pesticide works against spider mites

TOKYO UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE AND TECHNOLOGY

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VIDEO: THE LARVA ROTATES IN THE SPHERICAL EGG TO CUT THE CHORION FOR HATCHING; 32× ACCELERATED. view more 

CREDIT: TAKESHI SUZUKI, TUAT. THIS WAS PUBLISHED IN ENG LIFE SCI. 2020;20:525-534

Scientists have uncovered why a food-ingredient-based pesticide made from safflower and cottonseed oils is effective against two-spotted spider mites that attack over a thousand species of plants while sparing the mites’ natural predators.

An international team of scientists has uncovered how a bio-pesticide works against spider mites while sparing their natural predators.

The findings, published in the journal Engineering in Life Sciences on October 7, 2020, could present farmers and gardeners with an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic pesticides.

Food ingredients have long been used as alternative pesticides against arthropod pests, such as insects, ticks, and mites, because they tend to be less toxic to mammals and pose less impact to the environment. The way bio-pesticides work – often through physical properties instead of chemical ones – also reduces the likelihood that the targeted pest will develop resistance to the pesticide, in turn reducing the need to use greater quantities of the pesticide or develop new ones.

One such bio-pesticide, made from safflower and cottonseed oils–which takes the brand name Suffoil–has been known to be effective against two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae), a species of arachnid that attacks more than 1,100 species of plants. Suffoil has no effect on another species of mite (Neoseiulus californicus) that naturally preys on the spider mite.

A spider mite normally hatches by cutting the eggshell, or “chorion,” with its appendages as it rotates in the egg. The rotation in turn helps it cut more of the chorion and eases hatching. The spider mite embryo also uses silk threads surrounding the eggs, woven by its parent to house the eggs on the underside of leaves, which may act as leverage to aid this rotation.

To understand how Suffoil works against spider mites, the researchers dipped spider mite eggs in Suffoil and examined them using powerful microscopes. They also used spider mite eggs dipped in water as a control group.

They found that Suffoil partly covered the surface of spider mite eggs and the surrounding silk threads. More importantly, they observed that the embryonic rotational movement essential for hatching was absent or stopped in the Suffoil-covered eggs. It appears that the oil seeps into the eggs through the cut chorion, making the inside too slick for the embryo to rotate, thus preventing the embryo from hatching properly.

“The bio-pesticide works by preventing the spider mite embryo from rotating within its eggshell for hatching,” said Takeshi Suzuki, a bio-engineer at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) and senior author of the study.

“It may also weaken the toughness of silk threads and reduce the anchoring effect of the egg on the substrate,” said Suzuki.

The findings also offer an explanation as to why Suffoil has no effect on the spider mites’ natural predators – they don’t use rotation to hatch out of their eggs. This means that Suffoil may be used in conjunction with the spider mites’ natural predators.

###

Other contributors include Naoki Takeda, Ayumi Takata, Yuka Arai, Kazuhiro Sasaya, Shimpei Noyama and Noureldin Abuelfadl Ghazy, all affiliated with TUAT, Shigekazu Wakisaka at OAT Agrio Co., Ltd., and Dagmar Voigt at Technische Universität Dresden.

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI, Grant/Award Number: 18H02203; JSPS Invitational Fellowships for Research in Japan, Grant/Award Number: L19542; Equal Opportunities Support of the School of Science at the Technische Universität of Dresden, Germany

For more information about the Suzuki laboratory, please visit http://web.tuat.ac.jp/~tszk/

Original publication:

Naoki Takeda Ayumi Takata Yuka Arai Kazuhiro Sasaya Shimpei Noyama Shigekazu Wakisaka Noureldin Abuelfadl Ghazy Dagmar Voigt Takeshi Suzuki. A vegetable oil-based biopesticide with ovicidal activity against the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch. Eng Life Sci. 2020;20:525-534. https://doi.org/10.1002/elsc.202000042

About Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT):

TUAT is a distinguished university in Japan dedicated to science and technology. TUAT focuses on agriculture and engineering that form the foundation of industry, and promotes education and research fields that incorporate them. Boasting a history of over 140 years since our founding in 1874, TUAT continues to boldly take on new challenges and steadily promote fields. With high ethics, TUAT fulfills social responsibility in the capacity of transmitting science and technology information towards the construction of a sustainable society where both human beings and nature can thrive in a symbiotic relationship. For more information, please visit http://www.tuat.ac.jp/en/.

Contact:

Takeshi Suzuki, PhD
Associate Professor
Graduate School of Bio-Applications and Systems Engineering
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT), Japan
tszk@cc.tuat.ac.jp

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Fightback starts against fall armyworm

Published Yesterday at 09:35 AM

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) has received approval to import a biopesticide for research purposes, marking a significant step in the fight to combat fall armyworm (FAW).

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) approval to import Fawligen® meant the Queensland Government could start working on management packages for impacted industries.

“Since the initial detection of FAW in Australia in January 2020, DAF has worked closely with industry to find ways to address the threat posed by this voracious invasive pest to Queensland’s agriculture industry,” Mr Furner said.

“Fawligen® is a biopesticide targeting the FAW caterpillar which ingests virus particles, becomes infected and dies, spreading the virus to other FAW larvae in the crop.

“DAF first applied in March 2020 to bring Fawligen®, which is produced in the US by Australian company AgBiTech, into Australia.

“Getting DAWE’s approval to import Fawligen®, a naturally occurring caterpillar virus which targets FAW, is a key step forward as it has the potential to be a game changer for producers.”

Mr Furner said having access to Fawligen® would allow DAF researchers to immediately commence small scale work with AgBiTech to assess its performance on FAW populations, under local conditions and in various crops. 

“This will generate information for an Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Authority (APVMA) regulatory submission,” Mr Furner said.

“Natural biological control agents, like Fawligen®, reduce grower reliance on conventional insecticides for FAW control, reducing the risk of insecticide resistance development.

“Another significant advantage of this biopesticide is that it only kills the FAW and is non-toxic to beneficial organisms including honeybees and beneficial natural enemies such as spiders, wasps and ladybeetles.”

AgBiTech’s General Manager for Australia, Philip Armytage, said in response to the spread and rise of FAW as a global pest, in 2015 AgBiTech established a production facility in the US to manufacture Fawligen® for Brazil and other global markets.

“At the time, Fawligen® could not be produced in Australia as the FAW was not present,” Mr Armytage said.

“Globally, Fawligen® is AgBiTech’s biggest product by volume, and we are excited to be able to bring our technology back home to Australia for our farmers.

“We will accelerate the project, working closely with DAF and use all our international experience to support the commencement of the registration work as soon as possible.”

Mr Furner said DAF had a long history of working closely with AgBiTech in supporting the development of the Helicoverpa biocontrol ViVUS Max® in the early 2000s. 

“Australia is the global leader in the use of native and introduced biocontrol agents,” he said.

“We have seen excellent results in the control of similar caterpillar pests such as Helicoverpa as well as with silverleaf whitefly and prickly pear.

“In the meantime, growers should remain vigilant for the presence of FAW and check for the latest insecticide permits applying to fall armyworm using the APVMA’s permit portal.”

The latest advice about the impacts and management of fall armyworm on key crops can be found on the fall armyworm web page at business.qld.gov.au/fallarmyworm.

ENDS

Minister Furner media contact:                   Ron Goodman            0427 781 920

AgBiTech / Fawligen media contact:         Philip Armytage          0488 263585

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Management of Fall Armyworm: The IPM Innovation Lab Approach

https://ipmil.cired.vt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/IPM-IL-FAW-Management.pdf.

By:

Sara Hendery

Communications Coordinator

Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management

Hendery, Sara saraeh91@vt.edu

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Ghana News Agency

http://www.ghananewsagency.org/science/ghana-to-focus-on-bio-rational-products-for-management-of-faw-131321

fall-armyworm-frontal-MER-563x744

Ghana to focus on bio-rational products for management of FAW

By Belinda Ayamgha, GNA

Accra, April 13, GNA – The Ministry of Food and Agriculture says it has shifted its focus from synthetic insecticides to bio-rational products, for the management of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation, as part of its short, medium and long-term management measures.

The focus on bio-rational products is to ensure minimum pest resistance by the FAW, which is higher with the use of synthetic insecticides.

Dr Mrs Felicia Ansah, Director of Plant Protection and Regulatory Services at MoFA, said this when she briefed Journalists on the current situation of the FAW problem.

She noted that the FAW had come to stay, as it could not be completely eradicated but managed, as in the case of Brazil, which had been managing the FAW infestation for the past 40 years, and was currently one of the biggest exporters of maize.

Ghana had thus modelled its management measures after the Brazilian experience.

These measures, she said, include the deployment of pheromone trap catches in various locations across the country to ascertain the levels of infestation, training of MoFA staff and farmers on scouting, early detection and sustainable management of the pest in the event of an outbreak.

She explained that the best way to manage the infestation on farms was to detect the pests early at the larvae stage, and not when they became full grown moths. That is when they did the most damage to crops.

Other measures being undertaken by the Ministry are the distribution of pesticides to all district offices in the country where farmers can access in FAW infestations, the formation and training of Nnoboa Spraying Teams in farming communities and intensification of public awareness creation for farmers and the general public.

According to Dr Ansah, Ghana had commenced scouting of natural enemies of the FAW, which once identified, will be reared to help reduce the population of the pests.

“In the long term, only biological control agents, microbial insecticides and botanicals/organic products will be used to manage FAW in Ghana,” she said.

She said a total of 249,054 hectares of maize were affected and sprayed, out of which 234,807 hectares recovered and 14, 247 totally destroyed in the previous season, adding that there was a likelihood for more infestations in the 2018 farming season.

Dr Ansah stressed the need for the media to be circumspect in how they reported issues around the FAW infestation as it had implications for trade.

She urged the media to collaborate with the Ministry to educate farmers on how to manage the FAW.

She said the pockets of FAW infestations being currently experienced in some districts in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Eastern, Volta and Western Regions had been blown out of proportion as it was a pre-season production infestation.

“We would like you to appreciate that this is a Phytosanitary or Public Plant Health Issue, with trade implications and must be communicated in a professional manner. Media coverage should rather be geared towards improving the knowledge and skills of our farmers,” she said.

GNA

 

 

 

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Delta Farm Press 1

bollworm larvae

Biopesticide offers new form of control for bollworms, budworms

Helicoverpa NPV is found in nature as a pest of certain caterpillars. It does not kill other pests, and is harmless to humans

Apr 17, 2018

A host-specific virus is being used to control bollworms and budworms in Arkansas crops.

Helicoverpa nucleopolyhedrovirus, or just NPV, does not affect humans, plants or other insects, including those that are beneficial.

A fact sheet about Helicoverpa NPV is now available online at http://bit.ly/HelicoverpaNPV. The fact sheet is a joint publication of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Southern Integrated Pest Management Working Group and the Mid-South Entomologists Working Group.

The bioinsecticide has been studied and in use for years. Gus Lorenz, Extension entomologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said there is no shortage of research behind the use of this virus.

“This virus has been around for a long time,” he said. “The specific virus we’re looking at from AgBiTech, we’ve been looking at for about three years.”

The product is widely used and is currently in use in many different countries.

“It’s well-adopted in Australia and they’re selling it in South America,” Lorenz said. “It’s used all across the country and they’re pushing it pretty hard in the Mid-South.”

The virus only kills bollworm and budworm larvae that are less than a half-inch long and has no effect on later growth stages also known as instars. Because of this, Lorenz said, the virus should not be used if a producer finds more than five larger larvae in 25 scouting sweeps of a field.

Catch them early

“The virus doesn’t control the pests at later stages,” he said. “The younger larvae are smaller and more susceptible.Ninety percent of what bollworms consume is in the last instars, so you have to catch them before they cause that damage. It’s slow killing, so the last thing you want to do is put it on a late stage larva.”

The virus usually causes death in small larvae within four to six days and can show residual activity through several generations of pests if the conditions are right, according to the publication.

Lorenz said while there is always a possibility for resistance with any insecticide, it is not likely here in the Mid-South.

“If you expose larva to it in the front end of the season and the back end of the season, year in and year out, it could build resistance,” he said, “but it’s not probably anything we’re going to experience.”

As stated in the publication, the virus is safe for tank-mixing. However, along with some other mentioned precautions, Lorenz warns against mixing with high pH water.

“Water with high pH breaks down the matrix of the virus,” he said. “It’s extremely important that it’s not mixed with water with a pH of eight or higher.”

There are restrictions on when to use Helicoverpa NPV in relation to time of year.

TAGS: Insects

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logo-feed-the-future 1

Two Sides of the Same Leaf: Controlling Pests in Cambodia

February 28, 2018
Kim Fooyontphanich

A Cambodian farmer working under the Pest Exclusion Nets in Battambang, Cambodia.

Innovation Lab for Pest Management
Cambodian agricultural scientists, extension agents, NGOs, and entrepreneurs learn about Trichoderma, a beneficial fungus that can control vegetable-attacking pests.

A Simple Pest Control Technology Helps Farmers Find Success

Phai Sila has been farming since she can remember, growing up in a farming family in Battambang, Cambodia.

“Agriculture has been a big part of my life,” Sila said. “I helped my parents in the field since I was very young and still continue to farm for a living after getting married and having my own children.”

South and Southeast Asia are regions with enormous potential for horticulture production, yet farmers like Sila still follow traditional farming methods that produce low yields and make farming less profitable.

One element of farming that contributes to decreased profits for smallholder farmers is the use of pesticides. While pesticides are used in many countries’ agricultural industries, for smallholder farmers in villages around the world, their cost can be prohibitively expensive. So farmers like Sila have begun exploring other pest control options.

Through support from Feed the Future, Sila and other farmers in Battambang learned how to install pest exclusion nets (PEN) to protect their crops from pests, control temperature and soil moisture, and reduce their reliance on pesticides that impact both the environment and human health.

“The PEN technology can help me reduce pesticide use in farming, protect my crops from the heat, and maintain soil moisture in the summer season,” said Sila. “The best thing I noticed after using this technology is that the number of insects that come and attack my crops is reduced by 80 percent.”

By using PEN, Sila was the only farmer in the village to successfully grow leafy vegetables this past summer. Because of the lack of vegetable supply at the local market, she earned 10 times more than in the winter season.

“The price is really good in the summer,” said Sila. “Buyers at the market could not believe that my vegetables were grown locally; they suspected that the produce was imported and went through heavy pesticide use because it looked fresh with very little damage from pests.”

Embracing Biological Pest Control to Protect Crops

Pest exclusion net technology is not the only new method of pest control being explored in Cambodia.

Beneficial bacteria, fungi and viruses are a viable alternative to chemical pesticides for controlling pests and diseases that attack cultivated crops.

Since 2009, the Feed the Future Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab has worked to control pests and diseases that affect high-value vegetable crops. The lab has identified several potential biological pesticides for protecting crops in place of chemical pesticides, but one in particular – Trichoderma – could be produced locally and has proven to be highly effective.

There was one major hurdle to introducing Trichoderma to local farmers, though: The Government of Cambodia did not have a process for registering biological pesticide use within the country.

So the Feed the Future Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab conducted a workshop in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, to educate and train local agricultural scientists, extension agents, NGOs and entrepreneurs about Trichoderma. It also helped local entrepreneurs establish companies that produce this beneficial fungus and sell it to farmers.

In collaboration with a project sponsored by the German government, the lab also worked to encourage the Cambodian government to establish a registry for biological control agents. A Trichoderma application produced by Kean Sophea, a local entrepreneur with whom the lab had worked, led to the first officially registered and locally produced biological control agent in Cambodia.

“We are happy with the government’s decision,” said Mao Canady, manager of Eco-Agri Co, Ltd, a Cambodian company that produces Trichoderma, of the new registry. “It will build trust between farmers, the private sector, and consumers.”

And because biological control agents are not only cheaper than chemical pesticides, but also generally have a much smaller impact on the soil and the environment, the future of Cambodia’s farmers looks promising.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Integrated Pest Management, led by Virginia Tech, supports improved, environmentally sustainable yields for smallholder farmers through an environmentally-friendly, sustainable approach to reducing plant and crop damage caused by pests. The lab works with researchers, scientists, extension agents, farmers, policymakers, and government officials around the world, as well as universities in the United States and national and international agriculture research centers to tackle pest problems of vegetables, fruits, cereals, and legumes.

The Feed the Future Asia Innovative Farmers Project, funded by USAID and implemented by Winrock International, transforms the lives of farmers in South and Southeast Asia by supporting the discovery, development, and dissemination of impactful innovations that help farmers boost their incomes and improve their food security. The project works to identify, test, scale and disseminate critical technologies that enable smallholder farmers to improve productivity and income sustainably.

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Khmer TIMES-MASTHEAD-FINAL

Biological pest control agents given green light by government

Sok Chan / Khmer Times

A vegetable farmer waters plants at plantation in the countryside. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodia has just launched a new registry for companies that wish to import biological control agents (BCA), effectively allowing the importation of these organisms which are widely used in other countries for pest control.

BCA are natural organisms that are used to fight pests, such as the larva of certain flies which are used to combat insects that kill crops. Controlling pests ¬– whether they are insects, mites, weeds or plant diseases – through this method is known as biological control.

Speaking at a workshop on the subject yesterday, Phum Ra, the director of the department of agricultural legislation at the Ministry of Agriculture, said his ministry has officially opened a registry for companies who want to import BCA, a move he hailed as a milestone for the agricultural sector as it will reduce dependency of chemical products and widen producers’ markets abroad, particularly when it comes to organic buyers.

He added that the country’s current overreliance on chemical fertilizers is debilitating the soil, causing pesticide resistance and hampering access to international markets that demand higher and greener standards of agriculture production.

“Pesticides costs a lot of money and negatively impact the environment, the soil and our health,” he said. “BCA will help farmers reduce their use of chemical pesticides and will boost crop yields.”

Phum Ra, the director of the department of agricultural legislation at the Ministry of Agriculture.
KT/Chor Sokunthea

Mr Ra went on to explain that the ministry’s decision follows a rise in demand for BCA products in the kingdom and that they are being assisted by German development agency GIZ in laying the groundwork for the new initiative.

“The new registry and import documents are fully aligned with Asean guidelines on regulation, use and trade of BCA,” he said. “Now any commercial entity can register to import BCA into Cambodia.”

However, Mr Ra warned that due to the novelty of using these agents in the kingdom, there is a need for all stakeholders to cooperate to train farmers in their usage and to acquire the necessary equipment for their proper deployment.

Mao Canady, the manager of Eco-Agri Co, Ltd, welcomed the new registry. She said she had never imported these products before because of a lack of regulation, but said her company was already producing Trichoderma – a type of BCA used against certain fungi – at their facilities to distribute locally.

“We are happy with the government’s decision. It will build trust for farmers, the private sector and consumers,” Ms Canady said, adding that BCA are generally cheaper than chemical pesticides and have a much smaller footprint on the soil and the environment.

San Bunika, the country director of Agri-Smart Association, said the Ministry of Agriculture did the right thing by establishing the registry and encouraged the authorities to keep facilitating the process of obtaining BCA by cutting red tape and making it easier for farmers to acquire the products.

“We use too many pesticides in Cambodia. BCA will reduce the need for them,” Mr Bunika said.

“The government should continue to facilitate the import of these products by, for example, having labels in the local language so that farmers understand what BCA are.”

According to the department of agricultural legislation, more than 40,000 tonnes of chemical pesticides have already been imported this year. There are more than 100 companies in the country that import pesticides and fertilizers.

 

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Organised by
Promoted by

8th International Symposium

Plant Protection and Plant Health in Europe

Efficacy and risks of biorational products in IPM strategies – acceptable?

13-14 December 2017 – Braunschweig, Germany

  Dear colleague,

We inform you about the forthcoming international symposium

to be carried out at 13-14 December 2017 in  Braunschweig, Germany.

All details concerning the topic, the venue and the organizers please find at the symposium website (www.ppphe.phytomedizin.org)

Looking forward to meeting you soon,

On behalf of the symposium committee,

Best regards

Falko Feldmann

Institut für Pflanzenschutz in Gartenbau und Forst

Institute for Plant Protection in Horticulture and Forests

Messeweg 11-12

38104 Braunschweig

Fone: 0049 -(0)531 2994406

www. julius-kuehn.de.de

Falko.Feldmann@julius-kuehn.de

 

 

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PHYS ORG News

November 3, 2017

grape
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers have identified a wild yeast that is more effective than a pesticide at preventing common grape molds. The yeast strain is one of many found on wild grapes, as well as a smaller number found on farmed grapes, that can inhibit common grape molds. The study, published today in open-access journal Frontiers in Microbiology, suggests that wild yeasts could be an eco-friendly alternative to chemical pesticides.

“The ‘wild’ environment represents a huge and largely untapped source of biodiversity, which could provide a reservoir of helpful microbes for pest control,” says Ileana Vigentini, a researcher at the University of Milan.

At present, many farmers use chemical pesticides to control fungal diseases. However, pesticides leave hazardous residues in the environment that can have significant consequences for local ecosystems. Traces of pesticides can also end up in food, and could affect human health. In addition, many fungi are becoming resistant, meaning that pesticides may not work effectively.

The European Union has restricted certain pesticides, meaning that the race is on to come up with eco-friendly alternatives. One possibility is to use natural yeasts—themselves a type of fungi—to inhibit disease-causing fungi in crops. Microbes like yeasts often compete with one another, and naturally produce substances to kill or slow down their rivals. However, so far, researchers have not been able to find yeasts that are as effective as chemical pesticides.

In the study, Vigentini, Gustavo Cordero-Bueso and colleagues investigated whether yeasts isolated from the skins of wild or farmed grapes could inhibit three common molds that can ruin harvests. Initially, the research team isolated and identified yeasts from a type of wild grape in Georgia, Italy, Romania and Spain, and farmed grapes from vineyards in Italy.

The team tested whether the yeasts could inhibit mold growth in the lab, and identified the top 20 yeasts with the most potent anti-mold effects. Of these, a whopping 18 strains came from the wild grapes, suggesting that wild plants could be a promising reservoir for useful microbes.

The team went on to investigate the possible mechanisms the yeasts use to inhibit the molds. They found that many of the yeasts release enzymes that can digest the molds’ cell wall, or release substances such as acetic acid or hydrogen sulfide that can kill the molds. Finally, the researchers tested the yeasts’ ability to stop the molds from growing on grapes and compared them with a commercial pesticide.

Strikingly, one was more effective than the pesticide at preventing . Previous work has shown that this yeast strain does not interfere with wine fermentation, and can survive harsh conditions. This might make it well-suited as a biocontrol agent in vineyards, but outdoor trials are needed to confirm this.

“We plan to test some of these as a substitute for in field trials using grapevines,” says Vigentini.

Explore further: Beer yeasts show surprising diversity, genome study finds

More information: Gustavo Cordero-Bueso et al, Wild Grape-Associated Yeasts as Promising Biocontrol Agents against Vitis vinifera Fungal Pathogens, Frontiers in Microbiology (2017). DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02025

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-11-wild-grape-yeast-effective-pesticides.html#jCp

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SE farm press
BASF Oliver Gernsheimer
Oliver Gernsheimer, BASF Functional Crop Care, U.S. Crop Protection, highlights BASF‘s commitment to biologicals as another important crop protection tool for farmers.

BASF releases its first proprietary biological fungicide

Serifel, which is now labeled for use as a foliar fungicide in the United States, is based on viable spores of the beneficial bacterium Bacillus amyloiquefaciens strain MBI 600.

John Hart | Oct 23, 2017

BASF is committed to biologicals as another tool for growers to battle pests and disease. The introduction of Serifel, the first proprietary biological fungicide offered by the company, is an important step into the market.

Oliver Gernsheimer, responsible for BASF’s Functional Crop Care, U.S. Crop Protection business, said there is a growing interest in biologicals, particularly among specialty crop growers. “BASF is excited about new technologies in all areas that add value to our portfolio. Wherever we see a promising product and customers who are excited about it, we invest to develop these technologies further,” he said.

 “Strong grower interest and the realization that no one has focused on exactly how biologicals work are key drivers for BASF’s commitment to increase investment, science and research behind biologicals,” Gernsheimer said, noting that the company will introduce additional biological crop protection products in the near future.

Serifel, which is now labeled for use as a foliar fungicide in the United States, is based on viable spores of the beneficial bacterium Bacillus amyloiquefaciens strain MBI 600. It is targeted to specialty crops such as lettuce, spinach, grapes, wine grapes, strawberries, onions, carrots and tomatoes. It is currently labeled for foliar users, but BASF plans to add soil users to the label. Gernsheimer said the company hopes to have a label for soil use in the U.S. by next year.

Gernsheimer emphasizes that Serifel is a preventive fungicide designed to be used in a program with conventional fungicides or in an organic program. “Serifel is not designed as a stand-alone product,” he explained.

The product is effective on diseases such as powdery mildew because of its unique formulation. “Serifel is pure which allows the bacterium to work as it would in nature, making it  more efficacious without interference,” said Gernsheimer. “BASF is also the only company to provide a true resistance-management program by killing resistant diseases to some conventional chemistries and not just a rotational resistance program.”

“Serifel works best when applied early, before moderate disease infection. Once applied, the spores multiply very rapidly, covering anywhere on the leaf that a disease may try to inhabit. If the conditions are right for disease, the conditions are right for Serifel,” Gernsheimer said. “Additionally, a special feature of Serifel is rainfastness. Of the many metabolites produced by Serifel, one in particular, surfactin, is very sticky, allowing it to adhere to the leaf even during rain or irrigation. No longer will a grower have to decide about using a biological because of impending rain or a strict irrigation schedule.”

Gernsheimer said a key aim of BASF is to increase the credibility of biologicals as part of a pest management program and to understand biologicals with as much specification as the company’s conventional chemistry.

“We need to increase the confidence level of biologicals. We know when and how to apply Serifel because of novel research that looks at a multitude of parameters that may be faced in natural field scenarios. Parameters, that until now, have not been communicated to the grower,” he said. “Serifel works differently crop by crop. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every crop is a little different and every situation needs a different treatment. Helping growers to maximize the power of Serifel will give confidence in biologicals and prove that BASF is a trusted leader in this segment.”

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