S1024: Discovery of Entomopathogens and Their Integration and Safety in Pest Management Systems
Statement of Issues and JustificationProject's Primary Website is at http://cipm.ncsu.edu/S301/ (direct link can be found under LINKS)
There is an urgent need to accelerate the development and implementation of cost-effective, environmentally safe alternatives to chemical pesticides for insect control. Changes in pest management programs, such as the reduction in organophosphate use dictated by the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), necessitate the development of new management tactics that are environmentally sound and compatible with current production practices, including biological control. Most stakeholder groups involved in setting research priorities and development of strategic plans for integrated pest management (IPM) for agricultural and forest commodities throughout the U.S. have identified this as a major research need. Several have specifically identified greater use of entomopathogens as a priority. Numerous listings by commodities, states, and pests can be found on Regional IPM Center websites, e.g. NE IPM Priorities for IPM in Apples (http://nepmc.org/priority/index.cfm) lists the development of biological alternatives, including nematodes and insect diseases for management of apple maggot and plum curculio. This project is critical to the advancement of biological control and IPM in general. The Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy (ESCOP) has established the development of pest management strategies as one of its highest-priority initiatives and has identified biological control, including the use of entomopathogens as a priority research objective. The discovery and development of entomopathogens and other biologically based pest management technologies have further been identified in the Southern Strategic Research Plan as requiring more focused effort within the Southern Region (http://www.cals.ncsu.edu:8050/saaesd/5yrplan.htm). With the use of newer targeted technologies for primary pests, such as transgenic crops and many of the newer chemistries, we are seeing natural enemy populations increase in managed systems. The use of entomopathogens can provide another targeted tool for primary or secondary pests that will compliment the build-up of endemic natural enemies.
Several criteria were used in selecting pests as targets for the development of microbial control agents under the proposed project. Selecting criteria included: a) invasiveness of the pest insect; b) pest importance and economic impact in the host crop; c) suitability of the pest as a model for development of entomopathogens; d) lack of economically and environmentally viable control methods for these pests. Although the research proposed herein focus on a relatively small number of pests, the information generated is expected to have applications beyond the boundaries of the pest/host systems discussed in this proposal. This proposal has been organized into four commodity-based subprojects to facilitate both the research and the future implementation of technologies. Special focus has been placed on invasive species, especially new invasive pests, which require urgent attention.
Control of invasive organisms has also been designated a priority by a number of environmental organizations (http://nature.org/initiatives/invasivespecies/) and State and National regulatory agencies (National Invasive Species Council, 2001. Meeting the Invasive Species Management Plan, 80 pp.; Clinton, W.J. 1999. Presidential Executive Order 13112 of February 3, 1999: Invasive Species, Federal Register Doc. 99-3184, Vol. 64 No. 25, Feb. 8, 1999, pp. 6183-6186; invasivespecies.gov). Many invasive species have achieved major pest status in their introduced range because they have escaped components of their native ecosystems, including natural enemies that frequently kept their populations in check. Entomopathogens as a group represent an important component of a natural enemy complex whose potential role in the regulation of invasive species has frequently been overlooked in comparison to parasitoids and predators. Further exploration, discovery and development of entomopathogens for introduced pests will likely lead to new tools for their suppression.
The discovery, implementation and commercial development of entomopathogens have had a major impact on agricultural insect pest management for fifty years. The commercialization of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) products, including Bt-transgenic plants, is probably the most notable and commercially significant. New scientific tools, including molecular markers, in vitro production techniques, and others allow for discovery, identification, and development of entomopathogens previously overlooked. Although progress has been made, entomopathogens still represent a relatively under-developed and under-utilized resource in the insect pest management arsenal. Opportunities for the incorporation of biopesticides into new pest management programs exist. Transgenic crops and newer, targeted chemistries both have resulted in reductions in pesticide loads in agricultural crops. Biopesticides can be used for minor pests whose status is elevated when not regulated by pesticides traditionally used against major pest species. This project proposes to pursue opportunities to discover entomopathogens with novel or increased activity, evaluate their safety, and explore ways of integrating them into pest management programs. Meetings and output from the project will facilitate interactions between participants, pest management researchers, extension personnel, and end users to identify opportunities for further development and integration of entomopathogen-based pest management tools.
Microbial insecticides and transgenic plants are registered for crop protection across state lines. This requires tests of efficacy, persistence, safety, resistance management and other parameters under different sets of environmental conditions. Therefore, the development of entomopathogens for pest management systems requires multi-state cooperative research among State Agricultural Experiment Stations, USDA research groups and industry to be successful in fulfilling the objectives of this project proposal. Multistate research is essential to the development of new management strategies for insect pests. Entomopathogens and their host pest insects are not limited by artificial boundaries. There must be a mechanism in place to facilitate the exchange of entomopathogens among scientists for optimal development. Protocols must be developed and standardized for the diverse types of research being proposed which can best be accomplished through multistate cooperation.
Further development and implementation of entomopathogens for biological control of insects will directly benefit farmers, consumers and the environment. Use of entomopathogens as applied microbial insecticides or as classical biological control agents will lessen reliance on chemical pesticides and therein reduce potential environmental and human health hazards, and pollution of soil and groundwater. The proposed research will further contribute to the greater implementation of entomopathogens as biological control agents for noxious insect pests and invasive species throughout the US. The work will increase our fundamental knowledge of physiological and ecological relationships among entomopathogens, their toxins and host insect populations including virulence, pathogenicity, transmission mechanisms, persistence, safety, and host resistance.
Back to Top