Project Details


Due to the health and environmental hazards associated with heavy reliance on chemical insecticides there is an urgent need to develop and implement cost-effective, environmentally safe alternatives including biological control using insect pathogens. This project will address key challenges that limit microbial control for insect pests including: enhancing efficacy through strain discovery and improvement, integration with existing management techniques, conservation of endemic insect pathogens, and gaining greater understanding of pathogen biology and ecology to further improve applied pest management. The consequences of not doing the proposed research include increased chemical pesticides in the environment and increased crop losses. The objectives are to advance the role of entomopathogens (1) in perennial crops, in particular highbush blueberries and cranberries and (2) in urban landscapes, in particular turfgrass. The project will address the following approaches to enhance microbial control efficacy: insect pathogen discovery and characterization, including biology and ecology, and integration into management systems. Expected outputs from this project include: (1) New microbial control tools incl. novel or improved species/strains; (2) Extension-related presentations and workshops and scientific symposia; (3) Scientific publications incl. refereed articles, books, and book chapters; (4) Annual reporting including summary of research achievements, publication lists, tabulation of extension related activities; (5) S-1052 project website which, in addition to annual reports and meeting information, will publish specific recommendations; (6) Tabulated hits at the project and related websites used as outcome indicators. Efforts to discover new insect pathogen strains, especially entomopathogenic nematodes, will include the most recent techniques for surveying, isolating, identifying and examining pathogenicity. Pathogens will be isolated by baiting soil samples with sentinel insects, as well as surveying live insects, and grown on appropriate media or recycled in vivo for testing. New pathogens will be identified using morphological and molecular techniques. Virulence and pathogenicity of selected pathogens will be determined in laboratory assays against a appropriate target pest insects. Pathogens showing potential for commercial development will be field tested. Research will also be directed toward understanding fundamental pathogen biology and ecology. Target crops and pests will be scarab larvae in highbush blueberries and cranberries and scarab larvae, annual bluegrass weevil, and black cutworm in turfgrass. New species/strains adapted to these crop environments will be tested for virulence/efficacy in laboratory, greenhouse, and field experiments. Tests will include split applications, species combinations, and potentially synergistic combinations with other control agents to improve control of these pests. Promising combinations will be tested for long-term pest suppression.
Effective start/end date10/1/129/30/17


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))


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