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DROPSA Report Summary

Project ID: 613678
Funded under: FP7-KBBE
Country: United Kingdom

Periodic Report Summary 2 - DROPSA (Strategies to develop effective, innovative and practical approaches to protect major European fruit crops from pests and pathogens)

Project Context and Objectives:
New and emerging pests (Drosophila suzukii Matsumura), and quarantine pathogens such as Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa), Xanthomonas fragariae (Xf) and X. arboricola pv. pruni (Xap) that have been introduced into Europe have been identified as major phytosanitary risks. They pose a major challenge to fruit production and are causing substantial economic losses.
Since its introduction in 2008, D. suzukii continues to spread in Europe unabated, so there is a pressing need for effective, innovative and practical control solutions. The pathogens Psa, Xf and Xap are currently emerging in the EU and Mediterranean region and there are no efficient methods of disease control available. The eradication or containment of D. suzukii, and the pathogens Psa, Xf and Xap are no longer possible and their spread from the initial outbreak to other fruit producing areas is ever increasing.
Hence the development of targeted integrated pest management is vital to minimise the economic impact of D. suzukii and bacterial pathogens on fruit producers in the EU.
DROPSA is addressing the challenges faced by the EU fruit industry by creating new knowledge and understanding of the damage and losses of fruit crops due to D. suzukii, Psa and Xf and Xap.
DROPSA has integrated leading expertise in fruit pests and pathogens, fruit production and orchard management from across Europe and more widely on a global basis.
DROPSA’s principal objective is to develop reliable, robust and cost-effective approaches to protect the major European fruit crops from D. suzukii, and the bacterial pathogens Psa and Xf and Xap.
This objective is being achieved through the following actions:
• Determine the pathways of introduction and spread of D. suzukii and pathogens into the EU and develop preventative strategies and recommendations against the introduction of other dangerous fruit pests and pathogens using new pathway risk models.
• Determine the biology, ecology and interaction of these pests and diseases in different regions of Europe. This involves a comprehensive evaluation of life cycles, host ranges, capacities to disperse, identification of natural enemies, plant-pathogen interactions as well as the semiochemicals involved in the behaviour of D. suzukii. The knowledge on biology provides the platform to develop practical solutions for sustainable pest control.
• Develop innovative, practical, preventative and integrated control solutions using approved chemicals, semiochemicals, novel antimicrobial compounds and biological control agents as well as cultural practices, sterile insect techniques and new mode of action compounds. The most reliable and effective control options are being combined to optimize an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy.
• Develop forecasting and decision support systems and risk mapping as a component of IPM. The economic viability of proposed strategies for fruit crop protection is being evaluated and used to support decision making in the implementation of IPM strategies to protect the EU fruit sector.
• Undertake dissemination and exploitation actions to maximise the impact and up take of the recommended IPM by commercial fruit growers.

Project Results:
Pathway of introduction of fruit pests and pathogens
The study on the routes of invasion on Drosophila suzukii clearly helps in understanding its worldwide introduction pathways. Spread models have been used to determine the actual and potential spread of D. suzukii and pathogens.
Alert lists of pests and pathogens that may be introduced into Europe with fruit trade have been prepared for selected crops.
Biology and control of D. suzukii
Important progress has been made in the knowledge of the biology and ecology of D. suzukii, which is being used to develop new, sustainable control methods. The life cycle, climatic requirements, population dynamics, circadian cycle and host range have been studied extensively including in the area of origin of the pest. The most comprehensive studies on the spatial ecology of D. suzukii and the interactions between crop and non-crop habitats were undertaken.
Large surveys in China and Japan identified several parasitoids as important mortality factors of D. suzukii. They are being tested for specificity under quarantine to propose a classical biological control through the introduction of exotic natural enemies.
Several volatile compounds extracted from fruits induced reaction and/or were found to be attractive for D. suzukii flies. Novel attractants based on these compounds are being tested in the laboratory and in the field.
Mark-recapture trials showed that, without the aid of strong winds, D. suzukii probably does not spread more than a few hundred metres in their lifetime.
Standard procedures using traps for monitoring D. suzukii were developed however, mass trapping was largely ineffective.
Netting is the most effective method to eliminate pest damage, but not practical due to high costs.
Various chemicals provided excellent control of both adult and larval D. suzukii. The most active compounds reduce damage when tested in combinations in the field.
Entomopathogenic fungi significantly reduced fly populations in the laboratory and are currently being tested in lure and infect strategies.
Novel techniques involving self-limiting male-selecting D. suzukii strains, disruption of physiology and behaviour and microencapsulation are being successfully developed in the laboratory.
Biology and control of pathogens
Fundamental insights were obtained concerning environmental requirements and disease epidemiology of the bacterial pathogens, providing data to develop forecasting models and decision support systems.
On-site detection and genotyping tools were developed. Comparative genomics highlighted large portions of mobile genetic elements, especially in Psa, which underpins an evolution potential.
Pathogen in planta transcriptomes provided a list of differentially expressed virulence factors and fitness determinants. Kiwifruit plant response profiles at different stages of the early Psa infection process allowed identification of potential molecular markers for future kiwifruit breeding programmes.
Pollen has a crucial role in vectoring Psa, showing commercial production and assisted pollination in kiwifruit is a risk.
Compounds with different modes of action have been screened against bacteria. Whilst all three bacterial pathogens showed similar responses to antimicrobials, including novel compounds from peptide libraries, botanicals were the most active compounds. Under greenhouse conditions efficacy was dependent on the pathogen-host plant combination. Among existing compounds, copper and resistance inducers alone or in combination resulted in the most effective control methods.
Several novel biocontrol bacterial (Lactobacillus and Bacillus) strains were effective in greenhouse assays. Bioreactor production has been successful, including physiological improvements and formulations.
Preliminary tests of compounds on kiwi vines and peach delivered through stem injection have been successful.
Practical solutions for control
Cultural management (e.g. pruning, grass management) has been shown to reduce pest and disease. Novel control methods will be applied with the most suitable and efficient cultivation methods. A risk map for D. suzukii spread has been developed to help predict and prevent further spread of this pest. A decision support system for pest and disease management in under development
Economic analysis
Ex-ante analyses have been made to provide critical information for use in the development of new strategies, including sterile insect techniques, netting and pesticides against D.suzukii, and plastic covers against Psa.
Standards for the economic data collection for the ex-post calculations have been developed and data collection started.
Potential Impact:
There are currently no effective control solutions for Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa), Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni (Zap) and X. fragariae (Xf) in Europe, hence strategies developed by DROPSA will have an impact on these organisms and the economic losses they cause.
Research on the biology of D. suzukii and pathogens will facilitate the development of innovative solutions for pest and disease management.
Improved trapping methods, including attract and kill, attract and infect strategies with entomopathogenic fungi, cultural management, cultivation practices and biological control will provide alternatives to chemical pesticides offering environmentally benign solutions for the control of D. suzukii.
Novel approaches such as RNAi, disrupting fly physiology and behaviour via hormone targets, and self-limiting male-selecting of D. suzukii, will provide new transferable technologies for the control of economically important pests of fruits and other crops. All these approaches can be utilised in an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy.
DROPSA will elucidate key epidemiological aspects from the disease cycles of Psa, Xf and Xap, to the spread inside the orchard, the long distance diffusion, the colonisation of the plant tissues and overwintering strategy of the pathogen. The influence of environmental factors and cultural interventions on the disease spread, incidence and development will be determined.
DROPSA will provide in-depth knowledge on the plant-pathogen interactions, leading to modifications in pathogen virulence and fitness factors and inducing natural plant resistance to combat disease. An understanding the molecular-basis of the pathogen-host interactions will identify markers for assisted breeding, a fundamental step in the development of novel resistant plant varieties.
DROPSA will have an impact on yield losses through the development of effective control solutions for both D. suzukii and diseases. It will identify which of the existing compounds is most appropriate and most effective for use on fruit in Europe, and produce pesticide use regimes that will provide the longest protection with minimal risk to human health and the environment. More efficient methods for mass trapping will be developed by identifying new attractants, improving trap design and efficacy and identifying appropriate pathogens for lure and kill and lure and infect strategies. This will be supported by the development of a standardised monitoring method to correlate with damage level and establish treatment thresholds.
DROPSA will develop novel phytosanitary measures to control Psa, Xf and Xap, which will also reduce the use of copper formulations thus limiting their environmental impact and the risk of resistance development inside these pathogens. This will be achieved by developing and optimising sanitation procedures for plant material, new safe bioactive pesticides with low toxicity and low environmental persistence, biological control agents with synergistic mechanisms, induction of plant resistance, new plant biostimulant and resistance inducers.
DROPSA will also develop effective formulations and most appropriate method of application for pathogen and plant stage of development. Alternative and integrated pest management strategies, innovative solutions, timing of pesticide application and new mode of action compounds will also help to counteract the problems associated with pesticide resistance and the reduced availability of active ingredients.
New knowledge on pest and pathogen will allow the development of decision support systems to optimise the use of pesticide, fertiliser and energy by tailoring the external inputs on the plant needs with the phytosanitary and physiological state of the crop. DROPSA will also establish a better prevention strategy to avoid the introduction of invasive pests and pathogens.
An alert lists of pests and pathogens that may be introduced into Europe with fruit trade will identify potential risks and preventative strategies against the introduction of other dangerous fruit pests/pathogens into the EU will help mitigate this risk.
The innovations of DROPSA and the development of cost effective and sustainable pest management methods will increase the sustainability and competitiveness of fruit production in Europe.
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United Kingdom
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