"Thrips are insects that are important crop pests in agriculture and horticulture. They cause most damage to protected (greenhouse) crops, which have an annual EU production of 37 billion euros. Growers are struggling to control thrips but are also under pressure to reduce pesticide use. The EU Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (2009) requires alternatives to pesticides to be used wherever possible. There is also the imminent threat that an invasive species, Thrips palmi, will devastate protected crops when it reaches the EU.
This is a multi-disciplinary project that uses skills in biology and organic chemistry to improve crop protection in agriculture and horticulture by developing new methods for the monitoring and control of thrips. Aggregation pheromones of thrips can be used to monitor thrips populations so that pesticides are only applied when necessary and also to modify behaviour to enhance the effectiveness of control methods. The project will identify the aggregation pheromone of Thrips palmi and also make the aggregation pheromones of other pest thrips species easily available for monitoring and control.
The project addresses the EU policy objectives of minimising the use of pesticides and promoting sustainable horticultural production methods that meet consumer requirements for a safe food supply chain and environmentally responsible growing systems.
The success of the project depends on bringing together complementary skills. The MC fellow has significant skills in the organic chemistry of natural products, while the Keele group has considerable expertise in thrips biology, chemical ecology and the translation of research results into practical outcomes for horticulture.
This research will develop an environmentally responsible method of monitoring and controlling a range of pest thrips in Europe and other countries leading to a reduction in crop damage and pesticide use and a strengthening of EU competitiveness in horticulture."
Fields of science
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