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Harmonise the strategies for fighting Diabrotica virgifera virgifera.

Final Report Summary - DIABR-ACT (Harmonise the strategies for fighting Diabrotica virgifera virgifera)

The project DIABR-ACT intended to coordinate sustainable and environmentally embedded maize production systems among EC countries aimed at controlling the invasive maize pest Western Corn Rootworm (WCR), Diabrotica v. Virgifera LeConte (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) by using diversified approaches and control measures. More specifically, DIABR-ACT proposed at the end of the project:
- a coordinated European action plan in order to harmonise and improve control and prevention measures against WCR populations in Europe;
- a coordinated European research plan that identifies priority research areas with regard to WCR as well as harmonises research activities.

The long term goal of DIABR-ACT was to establish a harmonised and sustainable control strategy for WCR populations both in the areas of continuous establishment and in the areas of discontinuously emerging populations. At the same time DIABR-ACT aimed at minimising the impact of these measures on biodiversity and the environment. These control strategies had to be adapted to the situation of each country involved and ad to take into account the situation of the farmers and the economic chains build upon the maize crop. These control strategies include biological and integrated control, plant resistance traits, the adaptation of biotechnological approaches and cultural techniques. Stakeholders participating in the Specific Support Action were members from organisations involved in potential problems caused by this insect pest, i.e. farmers organisations, national plant protection services, policy makers, European research groups, cooperatives, chemical and plant breeding companies, environmental groups, respectively. The focus of DIABR-ACT was on coordination of already established activities concerning the control of WCR by means of sustainable control measures. However, knowledge concerning the economic impact of WCR on farm, food or feed chain level was still limited. Thus, and evaluation of short and long term costs and benefits of containment and eradication strategies at the micro- or macroeconomic level (farms, regions, countries, Europe) seemed mandatory.

A literature survey has been conducted by INRA on the ecology of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera. This survey details a large part of the literature available on this subject as well as unpublished results of current research. A computer database has been build; it consists in a compilation of more than a thousand bibliographic references on the ecology of WCR and associated information such as the availability of the corresponding articles among the partners of the project. The database will be made available for interested research groups in case legal entities are not violated. An international expert group was invited in Nice, France, for a workshop on the topics of past and present research achievements on the ecology of WCR. Most importantly, this expert group outlined the research gaps that should be filled. A report detailing the research accomplished since the last comprehensive review on the subject of WCR ecology has been written. Four review articles have been submitted and were accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed international scientific journal.

CABI conducted a worldwide survey for units dealing with or interested in dealing with biological control strategies in the maize agro-ecosystem. A global expert list was presented. A core group of institutions and experts focusing on the biological control of WCR was established. An international expert group was invited for a first workshop on the biological control of WCR and other maize pests in order to review research conducted on this subject, to show current developments, to analyse feasibility of biocontrol options, to inform about stakeholder needs, and finally to reveal knowledge gaps. A survey was conducted on the integration of potential WCR biological control techniques with established biological control options against other maize pests and a literature and projects were reviewed on possible adoptions of newly developed bio-pesticides to the control of WCR in Europe.

A training manual was developed and published by CABI and international experts on possibilities to conserve and enhance natural enemies in the maize production system in order to reduce outbreaks of maize pests, particularly WCR. An international expert group was invited for a second workshop on the biological control of WCR and other maize pests to further review natural enemies of Diabroticina, to identify a common agreement on the most promising biological control strategies against WCR in Europe, and to suggests possible objectives of a collaborative European research plan for suppressing WCR populations using biological control techniques within an integrated and/or organic management approach in European maize production systems.

A final report on the most promising biological control strategies that may be considered for the suppression of WCR populations in Europe has been published. This report proposes priority areas for a collaborative European research plan on the control of WCR, focusing on biological control as a valuable component within an integrated management approach in European maize production systems.

DIABR-ACT has generated a high amount of information and documents (synthesis, manuals, guidelines, proceedings of the symposium) which are of great interest for the different stakeholders. These documents are now available on the website of the project.