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Biopesticides – new solutions for old problems

| October 15, 2015
195 delegates

195 delegates came to Swansea from over 40 organisations and 25 different countries to discuss biopesticides. Photo copyright Phil Rees.

Swansea University, South Wales played host to a special Biopesticide conference in early September. Professor Tariq Butt welcomed 195 delegates from 40 organisations and 25 different countries with significant involvement from within the industry to present and share experiences from their work. There were in total 50 presentations given over 8 sessions covering a variety of topics. The conference ambition was to look at the applied end of the biopesticide industry, to consider new products and strategies and how to get the best from the technologies that are emerging from various research and commercial enterprises.

Dr Willem Ravensberg

Dr Willem Ravensberg (IBMA President and Koppert, NL) looked at Crop protection in 2030: towards a natural, efficient, safe and sustainable approach.

In a packed three day agenda, the first session, entitled Biopesticides – new solutions for old problems, was started by Dr Willem Ravensberg (IBMA President and Koppert, NL), looking at ‘Crop protection in 2030: towards a natural, efficient, safe and sustainable approach.’

The market for the current biopesticide tools, including macrobials and the three regulated categories, is reported as US$1.9b, with a quarter of that market in Europe and an annual growth 15-20%. Known global producers are approximately 230 in number (excluding India and China) with 52 macrobial producers and 171 other products. Currently 2300 products are based on 230 organisms and 450 actives.

Professor Tariq Butt

Professor Tariq Butt declared the symposium and workshop a huge success. The talks were enlightening, business deals were done, new contacts made and consortia were developed. Photo copyright Phil Rees.



The driving forces for market growth are varied, with government, legislation, environment and food safety all playing a part. Market limiting factors include politics – reducing funding and sharing of benefits of biological diversity. Despite the growth, the greater society generally has a lack of understanding of this specialist sector of the market. Registration has not become any easier. EC1107/2009 has only seen 1 new product come through in 4 years. The rules and legislation affecting commercialisation and benefit sharing of natural resources is still being defined – Nagoya Protocol ( as are requirements on the use of non-native beneficials.

On the promotional side, the societal and market related issues of reduced residues on food are helping growth, as are national programmes: such as in France where there is a planned 50% reduction in chemical use by 2023; the biopesticide track in Belgium and Green Deal Project in NL.

Swansea University Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Davies in discussion with Professor Tariq Butt and John Flaherty of Greenerpol

Swansea University Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Davies in discussion with Professor Tariq Butt and John Flaherty of Greenerpol. Photo copyright Phil Rees.

The foundation of the IBMA has also been a contributing factor. Its main focus has been to have proportionate regulation of member’s products, to promote interests and activities, and accelerate strong growth. The IBMA has numerous outreach activities with organisations – EU commission, OECD, FAO, EU parliament, events, NGO, industry and the food chain and more recently it has been in discussion with its global counterparts to consider a global federation, the first gathering will be at ABIM 15, to include IBMA, BPIA, ANBP, ABC.

Looking ahead to 2030 there will be an emphasis on prevention, with plants being resilient from the start. Monitoring will become more important with more efficient automated traps. Scouting will improve using robotics and remote sensing. All these tools will contribute to a better knowledge based process (ICT) to help the grower make better decisions. Intervention will be limited and minimal, leading to intelligent agriculture. The objective in pest management will still include intervention but only when needed – chemicals may only be permitted after a written recommendation is made by advisors.

In closing, Willem predicted that the industry will continue to grow to an expected $6b by 2020 (15-20%) and perhaps 50% of the pest management market in 2030 will be biopesticides, an ambitious projection. This of course is compared to a conventional pesticides market that is expected to grow 6-7% to $80b in 2019.

Dr Diana Leemon explains

Dr Diana Leemon explained in detail the hazards of conducting fields tests to look at fungal biocontrol for livestock ectoparasites

Animal health applications are not often associated with biopesticides but Dr Diana Leemon (DAF, Australia) explained in detail the hazards of conducting fields tests to look at fungal biocontrol for livestock ectoparasites. The major ectoparasites such as Buffalo Fly and Cattle Tick cause issues through blood removal and disease transmission. In the sheep industry, the remote nature of farming means sheep can be attacked over a long time. The common Housefly is a problem where manure accumulates. With chickens, Darkling Beetles can burrow into the structure and chickens eat the mealworms, which takes them away from normal food and leading to disease transmission. DAF research has focused on one strain of Metarhizium and all species except Sheep Blow Fly were investigated. Australia still suffers from a “chemicals addiction” and so far little of the work has progressed beyond the trial stage but potentials have been identified. Among the best opportunities for a biopesticide was treating sheep, as the current chemical treatments present a health risk to shearers.

As featured in our July issue (IPC 57 (4), page 198), Dr Alia Zayed (NAMRU-3, Egypt) considered the biological control of Sandflies. The phlebotimous species or old world species were studied – with some difficulty. It is impossible to see immature stages in the field therefore it was necessary to rear them in the lab. Rodent burrows present an ideal harbourage for Sandflies and biological control is seen as a way to treat them in areas where resistance is an issue.

Richard Massy (Swansea University, UK)

Richard Massy (Swansea University, UK) presented a paper on using botanical fumigants to control sciarid flies

Metarhizium anisopliae was selected as it suited the arid Egyptian area. In the field study, one single application still gave performance at 14 weeks (50%) from a single application. Trials in Ghana and Sinai showed potential to reduce fly populations but application is needed in early summer or late spring to get optimum results. Ghana required 3 treatments.

Maureen Wakefield stood in for Dr Michelle Powell (Fera, UK) to present her paper on exploiting spider venom peptides for the development of biopesticides. Four million venom polypeptides have been identified. Most are specific to invertebrates and work by blocking the ion channels in insects. Many are highly toxic but require injection to function. To overcome this, research has used lectin isolated from Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis (GNA)). The protein can cross the insect gut. Taking the venom of Funnel Web Spider, known as Atratoxin-Hvqa, tests on Mamestra brassicae wit an artificial diet showed larvae begin to die after four days, gaining no weight and leading to 20% mortality. Further studies with Isagro and Colorado beetle continue to show potential.

Professor Steve Arthurs (University of Florida, USA) presented a review of the commercialization of granuloviruses for control of Codling Moth in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The Yakima Valley in Washington State is very dry but agriculture has developed by exploiting snow melt. Codling Moth is a major pest with 2.5 generations per year. Traditional control has used azinphos-methyl as a standard, but this was phased out in 2012 and organic growers were left with no alternatives. At that time no CpGV product had been previously tested in N. America. First year single tree treatments worked well then in year two, plot size grew to 1 acre. Field application targeted first generation with virus and spinosad and then virus only in second stage. Virus products worked well in smaller orchards and trellis systems and viruses and pheromone mating disruption were shown to work well together. Viral resistance is now an issue however and CpGV today is not considered a stand-alone solution.

Professor David Hall

Professor David Hall (NRI, UK) in asking the question, are insect pheromones not so specific after all, explained how this can be an advantage.

Session 2, considering behaviour modifying chemicals as major players in future pest control programmes, was initiated by Professor David Hall (NRI, UK) who posed the question, are insect pheromones not so specific after all? He illustrated this with reference to Long Horn Beetles, Cerambicidae and the pine tree pest Monochamus galloprovincialis that transmits pine wilt nematode. The pest is attracted to host plant volatiles and kairomones, preferring to attack stressed trees. Males have an aggregation pheromone and other species such as M. sutor and M. saror, that have potential as transmitters, produce the same compound, now identified as Monochamol. As trapping is useful in understanding vector dispersal, the benefit of a shared compound is that a multi species lure can be used to attract a wide range of species. He continued to illustrate this phenomenon with insects from the genus Lygus. The moral of his tale is that we must not be transfixed by pheromones as there are plenty of other modalities to ensure species specificity and a lack of specificity can be a practical and commercial advantage in the application of pheromones.

Dr Owen Jones (now of Lisk & Jones, UK) considered new opportunities in the application of semiochemicals. Their use in monitoing is now very well established, but 80% of all 20m pheromone lures produced annually (Witgall 2010) target less than 20% of 1500 pest species. What’s new? The control market has become significant now: 1m ha worldwide representing US$300m at manufacturer level. In tackling legislation it took 12 years to get 32 short chain lepidopteran pheromones listed on EU annex 1 which has allowed technological advances such as large scale synthesis. New synthetic routes help reduce the cost of products that can at least be used in the field. A new biotechnological approach of bio-factories, using yeasts or bacteria as expression systems, could help reduce costs further and open many new applications. Other promising new areas include moving from lepidoptera to other insect groups – eg scale insects, midge species and ants. The challenge remains in the synthesis.

Dr Alison Blackwell

Dr Alison Blackwell (APS Biocontrol Limited, UK) explained how semiochemicals are helping to trap and predict midges numbers in Scotland.

Dr Alison Blackwell (APS Biocontrol Limited, UK) picked up the midge reference and explained how an integration of semiochemicals was being used in culicoides surveillance and management. In Scotland, midges have an effect on tourism (60% of first time visitors deterred from revisiting) and loss of working time for outdoor employees. More seriously is their potential as arbovirus vectors. African Horse Sickness virus not yet in UK but could be. Scotland offers a vast breeding ground and plentiful blood meal hosts. It is still difficult to find high populations of midge larvae. When Blue Tongue Virus was detected, midges were trapped on farms for 2 years and led to development of an effective map of distribution. But traps used were non-specific. Semiochemical traps using CO2 have been used in the Scottish midge forecast, combined with a volunteer programme Midgewatch. This has helped increase the number of data collection points and in producing a set of algorithms that are now close to manual counts so that the detail of the midge forecast is improving.

In her second presentation, Dr Diana Leemon looked at semiochemical management and monitoring of the Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida). Found in Italy in 2014 but not yet in the UK, it is a native to sub Saharan Africa where it is not a pest. Eggs are laid in hives and larvae feed before pupating in soil. Ongoing research is looking at isolating odours from the hive and using this in combination with different traps. A four way choice test has identified certain compounds that elicit a response in the beetles. The challenge to develop a trap and lure, more attractive than a hive, will be a big one.

Dr Gunda Thoming (Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, Norway) has been investigating host fragrances for pest control. Norwegian research has been looking at a variety of pest problems that threaten various crop types from vegetables (e.g. pea moth) to dried fish. Investigations include host odour analysis and attraction of female insects. Working with host odours, there is always a challenge in competition with natural host odour or the background odour. The challenge remains of developing a formulation that provides a sustained release and a market acceptance.

In her own presentation, Dr Maureen Wakefield (Fera, UK) moved indoors and the development of a biopesticide for control of stored product insect pests. 7000 cadavers of stored product beetles were screened, from which 7 myco isolates and one in particular (coded IMI389521) appeared to be well adapted to UK conditions. Agrauxine developed the fungal scale up and this was formulated with Exosect’s carnauba wax product. Results indicate a 100% mortality in 7 days. Registration has been applied for and launch is anticipated by 2017/18.

Teresa Yuste Cervera from Idai Nature, Valencia, Spain.

Among the many commercial exhibitors was Teresa Yuste Cervera from Idai Nature, Valencia, Spain.

In public health and vector management, Martin Wood reported on Metarhizium anisopliae and mosquito control. With Aedes aegypti moving ever further north there is considerable risk to much greater populations and with larviciding having been shown to be a viable means of control, the use of fungal conidia in aqueous environments was considered to be a viable route forward. Blastospores were shown to be more effective than conidia, by up to ten times, as they could adhere to and germinate on the cuticle. The short coming however is that blastospores do not keep in storage but can persist in field up to 5 days. Conidia keep better in storage but will not last more than a day in water.

Dr Claudio Altomare (Institute of Sciences of Food Production, Italy) considered how Trichoderma was being employed for many new applications. From 9 known species in 1969, there are over 100 species identified today, in over 250 products – not all of which are biofungicides. It can be as effective as chemicals if used in the right way. Four species affect growth, health and plant yield. Less well known effects include biological control of nematodes, as a source of metabolites and an anti-feedant activity.

Emmanuel Benjamin (University in Munich, Germany)

Emmanuel Benjamin (University in Munich, Germany) asked some challenging mathematical questions when considering the economics and environmental benefits of biological control of pests of maize and potatoes.

As part of the Inbiosol project, the socio-economic benefits of biopesticides were considered. Emmanuel Benjamin (University in Munich, Germany) took the audience on a tour of the economics and environmental benefits of biological control of Western Corn Rootworm Diabrotica virgifera and Wireworms Agrotes spp. and aimed to demonstrate how the market adoption of biological products (estimated to plateau at 30%) could deliver real financial benefits.

Moving from actives to products, many biocontrol agents will have no function if they are not presented in the correct manner. Session 3 considered new production and formulation strategies for biopesticides.

Professor Anant Patel (University Bielefeld, Germany) in discussing formulation strategies for biological control agents looked at microencapsulation and granulation as viable means to present biological control agents. Many of the major formulation advances in the last five years have yet to be employed. Within Inbiosol, formulation advances have helped bring product costs down to a tenth, as well as improving shelf life, lowering dose, removing dust and potential allergens.

Dr Ralf Tilcher (KWS GmbH, Germany) described the experiences and demands from a seed company in applying microbials to seeds. Using sugar beet, the goal has been to improve speed of germination and emergence, improving stress tolerance as well as controlling soil and seed borne diseases. Using a consorzia approach of 6-7 isolates in a blend, there is a huge potential, as each biological reacts differently.

Dr Belinda Luke (CABI, UK)

Dr Belinda Luke (CABI, UK) considered improved formulation methods by freeze drying entomopathogenic fungi

Dr Belinda Luke (CABI, UK) considered improved formulation methods by freeze drying entomopathogenic fungi with the aim of trialling and developing a new product for Ghana. Hirsutella is a genus of asexually reproducing fungi that is active on mites, but it has a very short viable shelf life. By benchmarking against Metarhizium and Beauvaria, the aim is to improve shelf life using a freeze-drying and supercooling process with Icestart and reactivation using Viathaw.

Dr Desiree Jakobs-Schönwandt (University of Bielefeld, Germany) in presenting formulation and application techniques of fungal biocontrol endophytes explained how some entomopathogens live at least part of their life asymptomatically with plants and how research is aimed to develop integrated fermentation and formulation strategies with B. bassiana and M. brunneum.

Dr. Desiree Jakobs-Schönwandt (University of Bielefeld, Germany)

Dr. Desiree Jakobs-Schönwandt (University of Bielefeld, Germany) explored the formulation and application techniques of fungal biocontrol endophytes

Dr Margareta Hokeberg (Centre for Biological Control, Sweden) in her talk, on biological seed treatment for plant disease control and growth reviewed a six year project consisting of 250 trials in 31 crops. From 2000 selected isolates, 20 that were selected for screening have led to 6 bacterial isolates that are now in the development phase that will hopefully deliver 1 or 2 products.

Session 4 was more practical and looked at new pest control strategies and how to optimize impact. Seventy percent of all invertebrate herbivorous pest species pass at least one development stage in the soil. Professor Stefan Vidal (University of Goettingen, Germany) considered this in how to combine different agents to generate synergistic effects in an attract and kill strategy. Soil pests first orientate according to CO2 given off by plant roots and then VOC exudates help the pest identify if the correct host plant is being targeted. To develop an effective A&K strategy, capsules are needed to produce CO2. Alginate capsulescan was found to deliver CO2 for up to 2 months and these were formulated with M. brunneum to target Wireworm. Lab tests showed a slow kill effect but field applications where timing is critical (best at time of planting tubers) gave a 75% kill effect – which is better than current Fipronil treatment.

Dr Nayem Hassan (Russell IPM, UK) provided an update on their Ceranock semiochemical and entomopathogenic fungi-based solution for fruit fly control. Their first approach used a dual product approach targeting females with bait stations inside the plot and a barrier of a wax emulsion gel drops on the periphery (using trimedlure/avermectin) at a rate 100 stations + 100 drops/ha. This in itself was not sufficient, so has been supplemented with a soil treatment with Metarhizium anisopliae, allowing bait station numbers to be reduced to 50/ha. The triple product approach has now given 99% control compared to 98% with the farmers standard treatment.

Dr Owen Jones representing Naturiol, introduced a new insecticidal soap with enhanced activity against soft bodied insect pests and reduced phytotoxicity. Naturiol, a spin-out company from Bangor University, has extracted material from Ivy fruit and leaves – sapinins and unusual fatty acids. Targeting the normal use of fatty acids, in the control of soft bodied insects where the effect is physical, traditional soaps, with concentrations above 2%, can cause phytotoxic effects and so growers have avoided using products especially on sensitive ornamentals. Naturiol soap has shown no phytotoxicity at concentrations up to 10% on a range of ornamentals and vegetables. The physical nature strips the cuticle of the insect but not of the plant.

entomopathogenic fungi to control Pine Weevil (Hylobius abietis)

The workshop had many live exhibits including a display from Swansea University highlighting the work from the current LWEC project looking at entomopathogenic fungi to control Pine Weevil (Hylobius abietis)

Dr Miriam Hanitzsch (University of Bielefeld, Germany) considered how the encapsulation of Metarhizium brunneum could help implement an attract and kill strategy. This part of the Inbiosol project developed a formulation of Metarhizium for soil use. Different levels of yeast and starch were tried. The cost benefit is looking promising.

Dr Alper Altinok (Erciyes University, Turkey) studied the effect of entomopathogenic fungi on first larval stage of Sphaeralecanium prunastri, a pest of plum trees in Turkey. There are over 10m trees in Turkey and the Plum Scale S. prunastri is a major pest with high populations leading to branch death and even killing whole young trees. Despite just one generation, 1 female can produce up to 1000 eggs. Many scale insects are susceptible to EPFs. 6 were chosen for this study 2 x Isaria, 1 x Beauvaria, 2 x Lecanicilium and a Metarhizium. At 48 hr lab result Isaria was the most effective with Beauvaria the least effective. Next stage is to take formulations to the field.

IPC-Sept-Oct-2015-final-lores - Swansea v2pics_page5_image1Session 6 considered specific control strategies for different crops – are there general lessons to be learnt? Dr Hermann Strasser (BIPESCO, Austria) reviewed the biological control of soil dwelling pests in the Alpine countries. The Cockchafer affects 250k ha in Austria and traditional chemicals, aimed at adults only, kill 35%. Harrowing was effective at killing all larvae but only in upper layers of soil. Targeted applications of adults in forest with Beauvaria brongniartii was successful but transmission did not carry to the soil, as they died in the forest. The 3 year life cycle of the pest makes timing difficult as does soil pest density. The economic threshold in grass is 30 larvae per sq m but in Tyrol they were finding 130+. They now measure fungal density in the soil to keep larval levels below 30/m2. The recommendation for the product Melocont-Pilzgerste is 2x25kg/ha in two field seasons in grassland and 20kg per annum in crops, vines and orchards.In apple orchards, annual treatments since 1998 have kept chafer larvae levels below 2 per sq m (the economic threshold for apple). The product took at least 2 years for farmers to notice the effect. Within the Inbiosol project a combination of Metarhizium brunnneum with nematodes for Diabrotica v virgifera control showed that fungi can be used as preventative and sustainable control agents and combinations with conventional can be synergistic. For more information visit

Professor Enrique Quesada Moraga (University of Cordoba, Spain) reviewed the field application of Metarhizium brunneum for the control of Olive Fruit Fly Bactrocera oleae. In Spain, which represents 60% of world production (table and oil), olives cover 2.5m ha with 2m tonnes produced pa. Only 2-3 chemical actives are available. Semiochemicals have not managed to control flies in all areas. Entomopathogenic fungi have potential. They can be found in 70% of soils and have high virulence against adults, pupae and late stage larvae. To save costs – combinations with herbicides have been made using two treatments, with an application in November when larvae pupate in soil and a second treatment in spring. Four years of trials on 120 olive trees (1 ha) has demonstrated a 50-70% reduction of adult populations compared to control.

Professor Steve Arthurs (University of Florida, USA) looked at practical solutions for the microbial control of Thrips, Scales and Psyllids. For Thrips on roses, synergism has been shown when rotating or tank mixing BCA’s with conventional chemistry. For Asian Citrus Psyllid, where growers use a lot of fungicides, studies looked at combinations of fungicides with Isaria, a species of entomopathogenic fungus. The citrus industry in Florida has big problem with disease and the Armoured Scale is also a huge problem. Fungal based products are not giving as good control and myco-insecticides were shown to work only where environmental conditions can be manipulated. Thus successful product integration requires more smart thinking and programmes.

Dr Michael Brownbridge (Vineland Research & Innovation Centre, Canada) gave practical examples of how biopesticides have been integrated into greenhouse production systems. BCA’s often have a perceived inconsistency in efficacy and a lower performance relative to conventional chemistry. There are multiple factors that affect efficacy and to utilize products effectively, they need to be managed accordingly. In glasshouse plants that grow quickly through various life stages, there can be multiple pests and production techniques vary throughout the life of the plant – creating different environments. Canada has 4 myco-insecticides. Focusing on fungal products against insects, trials on potted chrysanthemums with Nemasys + Met52 to treat Thrips targeted the soil – Nemasys was stopped at week 6 and Thrip levels at week 8 were measured at <10 per plant. Combining the treatment with the predators Neoseiulus cucumeris helped to control further. Bemisia tabaci is another major problem to control on poinsettia – 100% of all cuttings come from outside Canada and bring Whitefly with them at low levels making treatments a challenge. Different products have been tested as dips for the imported cuttings. Botanigard + insecticidal soap was the best approach giving 60-80% control but it was still short of 100%. A parasitoid wasp was chosen to follow – Eretmocerus eremicus. With no dipping, control by the wasp was double that for plants that were just dipped. The best results however was a combination that gave 2-3 Whitefly per plant after 10 weeks compared to 18-19 with parasitoid only. The Q biotype of B. tabaci is known to be very resistant to all chemicals. Biocontrol has shown ability to manage even this biotype. Thripson table grapes are another pest problem not well controlled by conventional sprays – in Italy growers use at least 3 sprays. B.bassiana gave good control alone but a combination of a pyrethroid acrinathrin and B. bassiana helped to eliminate two chemicals sprays. When B. bassiana was applied on cherry to protect against Fruit Flies it was found that conidia created a hydrophobic layer and protected the fruit from attack, showing that even if mortality is not on a par with a chemical treatment, micro-organisms can still protect the crop. There is increasing evidence for a wider ecological role. Direct and indirect effects open a new approach to use microbials and other biopesticides.

Dr Giselher Grabenweger (Agroscope, Switzerland) asked if there is a chance to control wireworms with entomopathogenic fungi? Metarhizium has been found in pastures but less so in cultivated soils. Agrotis species are often mixed – A. lineatus, A. obscurus, A. sputator. From laboratory studies there is no one fungal strain that can kill all species. Practical applications first considered using a bait but this was superceded by a lure and kill approach using a mix of strains, and to compensate for lower virulence, a high concentration of spores was employed 10×15 spores per ha in pot trials gave results equivalent to insecticide treatment. In open fields, in cover crops, late summer results were variable and did not give as good performance compared to conventionals. Sadly the good lab results did not translate into good field results even over 3 years. The species specific virulence of the Metarhizium strain was felt to be a problem and fungal establishment in soils of arable crops easily fail.

Professor Hassan Alayied

Professor Hassan Alayied explained how that in Saudi Arabia, biopesticides are being studied to control Red Palm Weevil that is present in over 60% of the country

There are 2,400 different species of palm, the 3rd most important plant globally and important for fruit (date), oil and fibre. Two presentations considered control of the Red Palm Weevil (RPW) Rhynchophorus ferrugineus. Dr Inmacculada Garrido-Jurado (University of Cordoba, Spain) looked at the control of RPW with crude extracts of the entomopathogenic fungi Metarhizium brunneum. One adult RPW can kill a palm tree in 1 year (3 generations). Biological control uses the nematode Steinernema carpocapsae but B. bassiana has also been found infecting adults. Trials with crude extracts of a Metarhizium preparation in the laboratory (with apple) gave a 100% mortality of adults in 5-6 days. Professor Hassan Alayied (KAST, KSA) explained that in Saudi Arabia, RPW is present in over 60% of the country; the biggest reason for spread is movement of plant material. Use of a patented SMART Trap that employs a rotating catch chamber on a motor showed that there were 3 peaks of activity for males and 2 peaks for females. Work with entomopathogenic fungi has studied Beauvaria and two strains have been identified for further testing.

From Russia, Dr Vadim Kuryov (Institute of Systematic and Ecology of Animals) looked at the use of natural products to enhance the efficacy of microbial biocontrol agents. Russia has a wide range of climates. Agriculture is focused in temperate regions and this has an impact on the potential for biopesticide use. Synergies have been tested against Colorado beetle with Metarhizium robertsii and Bt. This gave poor control when used alone but combination gave >90% control of larvae on field crops with little plant damage. Combinations of EPFs and plant metabolites gave mortality of larvae up to 90%. Chlorogenic acid and B. tenebrionis showed a similar response, increasing susceptibility to Bt two fold. A final example of synergy used venom of parasitoid Habrobracon hebetor and EPF, showing less conidia were required when tested against moth pests.

Dr Jacqueline Scheepmaker (RIVM, The Netherlands)

Dr Jacqueline Scheepmaker (RIVM, The Netherlands) considered developments in risk assessment of microbial pest control agents

Session 7 looking at regulation and risk was entitled ‘No risks of biocontrol strategies? Assessment and potential mitigation strategies’ and was kick started by David Cary, Chief Executive of the IBMA who reviewed the current registration process for biopesticides and the issues and roles and responsibilities for the various stakeholders. This was followed by Dr Jacqueline Scheepmaker (RIVM, The Netherlands) considering developments in risk assessment of microbial pest control agents (MPCA’s). The EU 2009/1107 data requirements may be suitable for chemicals but they are too rigid for micro-organisms. OECD and EFSA have both issued documents over the last 10 years looking at microbials for pest control. There may be as many as 80,000 microbial metabolites now known. But which are important? No authorisation shall be granted if microorganism shall persist in the environment in concentrations considerably higher than normal back-ground levels. A review of literature shows a natural level of approx. 1000 CPU. Current literature shows that applications of up to 10×7 all produce declining levels over a period of time, but it is not known what time period is required to bring levels back to natural levels. The issue of secondary metabolites was recognised as a problem in the risk assessment. An OECD report on secondary metabolites is under development.

Dr Juerg Enkerli (Molecular Ecology, Switzerland) assessed the effects of fungal biological control agents on non-target microorganisms in soil. Soil micro-organisms help in decomposition, nutrient transport, creating soil structure and act as symbionts, antagonists and plant growth promoters and as well as including pathogens and parasites. EU regulation 544/2011 has data requirements for active ingredient that impact on non-target micro-organisms. In a larger study using colonised barley kernels, Metarhizium and Agrotis, the effect on micro-organisms was analysed using a sequencing approach. Certain applications showed an effect of the application but after 15 weeks the communities returned to normal so the effect was considered transient.

Dr Inmacculada Garrido-Jurado (University of Cordoba, Spain) considered the risks associated with Metarhizium and Beauvaria. Risk assessment can be expensive. Brine Shrimp and Water Daphnia are normally used for
environmental impact of conventional products, so they were selected for test with BCAs. Mosquito larvae were also included. Mortality of Daphnia and Shrimp was found to be dose responsive but mosquitoes showed differing responses with A. aegypti less likely to be killed. Anopholes, Daphnia and Artemia were presented as good indicator species.

Professor Hugh Evans

Professor Hugh Evans (Forest Research, UK) demonstrated how global trade, tree host availability and climate change are creating a ‘Perfect Storm’ for successful forest pest invasion.

The last session considered invasive threats and novel methods of predicting the future. Professor Hugh Evans(Forest Research, UK) demonstrated how global trade, tree host availability and climate change are creating a ‘Perfect Storm’ for successful forest pest invasion. Many exotic species have become established in UK forestry. Rates of arrival appear to be accelerating but it has been a steady event over the years. Global trade and climate change has increased incidence. Since 1960 total exports have increased 6% year on year. Keeping pests out does not always work. Untreated wood such as rough wood packaging is considered a high risk while manufactured and processed wood of a low risk. Live plants present an even higher risk, even as seeds, with the highest risk presented by whole specimen trees with roots balls intact. It is impossible to remove all pests. Existing lists (e.g. EPPO) under-represent the reality. Rhizophagus grandis was presented as an example of a successful BCA when used against the Great Spruce Bark Beetle (Dendroctinus micans). As a very species specific pathogen it spreads effectively with the pest.

Professor Neil Boonham (Fera, UK) looked at new approaches for the early detection of tree health pests and pathogens. Inspection of timber products is always a challenge, so tools are needed to make the job easier. Fera has been part of a project to develop improved, cost-effective tools for early detection, surveillance and monitoring pests. Under a selection of separate work packages, the consortia is looking at real life tools fit for the purpose that can be used in a range of inspection contexts. This includes equipment developed for volatile detection – can electronic noses be developed to detect plant pathogens? Multi spectral imaging systems to identify infestations; markers for early detection of biotic and abiotic stress in plants; airborne spore trapping; and other novel approaches for trapping.

Dr Georgette Kluiters

Dr Georgette Kluiters introduced the symposia to the future threats from arthropod vectors of disease

In a move away from agriculture Dr Georgette Kluiters (University of Liverpool, UK) presenting on behalf of Matthew Baylis, introduced the symposia to the future threats from arthropod vectors of disease. Climate change is affecting pathogens and their hosts. Dr Kluiters considered three pests in particular. Midges can transmit 53 viruses, 12 protozoa and 18 filarial nematodes. Among these are Blue Tongue and Schmallenberg viruses for which modelling has shown that standard animal movement controls will not prevent spread and so biocontrol may be required to help limit the spread. The popularity of small animals as pets are helping ticks to spread their range. 15% of dog owners may not even realise their pets are carrying ticks. Animals are being regularly moved internationally under the pet passport scheme. The Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) can be infested with Rickettsia conorii, or Mediterranean Spotted Fever. The UK has plenty of mosquitoes able to be vectors of Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) but the pathogen is not to be found, yet. Malaria was present in UK in 1840-1910 and reappeared in Greece in as recently as 2011. It is unlikely that the UK will get malaria again but increased wetlands may help increase he threat.

Dr Milan Pernek (Croatian Forest Research Institute) presented a situation where Beauveria bassiana worked as an effective natural biopesticide against Dendrolimus pini. The Pine Tree Lappet Moth is present in many European counties (Germany treats 3,500ha pa). A native of Siberia it has spread west and appears on EPPO list 2. Bacteria have been tried but shown not to be very effective. In 2014, in coastal Croatia, many pines were defoliated by D. pini. While in Germany, 10 caterpillars per mis a critical level to initiate control, in Croatia they were finding >25/m2. Unusually however, the Croatian pine infestation recovered normally. Investigations of larvae found in the soil showed they were naturally infected with Beauvaria bassiana. This was the first time that both pest and pathogen had been recorded.

Dr Roma Gwynn (Rationale, UK)

Dr Roma Gwynn (Rationale, UK) is less interested in hearing of new strains of pathogen or control agents but would prefer to know more of why biological control agents work – how and when?

Concluding the conference, Dr Roma Gwynn (Rationale, UK), in presented the potential for biopesticides, first highlighted that there is no global definition of a biopesticide. The market value is described as being worth $2b potentially growing to $6b by 2019. In 2009 there were only 15 active substances registered in the EU. That has now doubled. None of these are truly new biopesticides – the active substances having been known for a long time. And despite investment, many producers are small in size, raising the question, can the industry meet the demand as the market grows? Compared to conventional agrochemical chemistry, trials with biopesticides do not always produce the response we might have expected and interpretation is important. We should not think of these products in terms of pest control but more for population management.

In looking to the future, Dr Gwynn said she was less interested in hearing of new strains of pathogen or control agents. Rather it is important to know why biological control agents (BCA) work, how and when? With registrations taking approximately 5 years for new BCA’s the new legislation is at last beginning to work. It is now time to consider optimisation of formulations, looking at application methods (very few papers consider spray application of biopesticides). Potential areas for growth include outdoor plant protection of food and non-food crops, in animal health, public health and forestry. Is it feasible to consider using microorganisms as bio-factories, or to look for novel micro-organisms in parts of world as yet unexplored?

Őzgűr Ateş Managing Director, Bioglobal Turkey and the Spanish representative Migual Dolz Algar

Őzgűr Ateş Managing Director, Bioglobal Turkey and the Spanish representative Migual Dolz Algar were among several companies who participated in the workshop and poster session.

Since the birth of modern synthetic pesticides we have been passing through a 50-60 year period of chemistry and now we should consider that we are entering an era of biology. Agroecology is really complex and difficult to translate to farmers. The next 20-30 years will be great for biopesticides. Growers will come to accept <100% and even 50% control, provided they get consistency of performance – i.e. they always want to know when a product will work and when it won’t. Sadly this is made all the more complicated by companies marketing products illegally – exploiting so called regulatory grey areas. The industry needs to move away from ill-defined products such as plant strengtheners. If the regulations worked better – everyone would use the system.


Tuesday afternoon provided time for a workshop, poster session and networking event prior to the evenings dinner and ceilidh. Photo copyright Phil Rees.

The meeting also made time in Session 5 for presentations by representatives of various funding agencies which almost sparked an improvised discussion as to why there were so many different funds being spread across so many areas of research and was this really the best use of funds.

Published in International Pest Control – September/October 2015 issue.

Author: David Loughlin – Editor International Pest Control magazine,

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Category: Agriculture, Horticulture-Amenity, Public health

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