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  • Periodic Report Summary 2 - BIOCOMES (Biological control manufacturers in Europe develop novel biological control products to support the implementation of Integrated Pest Management in agriculture and forestry)

BIOCOMES Report Summary

Project ID: 612713
Funded under: FP7-KBBE
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 2 - BIOCOMES (Biological control manufacturers in Europe develop novel biological control products to support the implementation of Integrated Pest Management in agriculture and forestry)

Project Context and Objectives:
The objective of BIOCOMES ( is to develop 11 new biological control agents (BCAs) for key markets in European agriculture and forestry. BCAs were identified through market analysis by six manufacturers of biological control products. BCAs will primarily be for use in open field crops of vegetables (3), of which 2 are also for use in protected crops, arable crops (3), fruit crops (3), and three different types of forests (2). Primary targeted pests are: gypsy moth, pine weevil, tomato leaf miner, white flies, aphids and cabbage moth. Primary targeted pathogens are: damping-off diseases in forest nurseries, soil-borne pathogens of oilseed rape and cereals, brown rot of stone fruit, and powdery mildew of cereals. The economic sustainability will be assessed by industrial partners. The environmental sustainability will be quantified for each BCA by means of the Sustainable Process Index method. The entire developmental process for each of the 11 BCA products is guided by a consultancy partner specialized and leading in (bio-)pesticide registration including risk assessments for European (bio-) pesticide industries. In vitro production of entomopathogenic viruses will be developed aiming at a breakthrough in economic production. Downstream-technology and shelf life for entomopathogenic nematodes will be improved. BIOCOMES will communicate project results with all stakeholders with special attention to European IPM networks. BIOCOMES combines the expertise of 10 industrial SME partners, 3 larger industrial partners and 14 research partners with 38% of the funded EU contribution supporting SMEs. All 11 BCA solutions will be novel IPM tools and new alternatives to replace major pesticide applications in European agriculture and forestry.

The following BCAs will be developed:

Disease control

Brown rot of stone fruit – BCAs based on Penicillium frequentans and Bacillus subtillis: Production, formulation and IPM control strategies will be developed.

Fungal root diseases in nurseries – BCAs based on Serratia plymuthica, Paenibacillus polymyxa and Trichoderma harzianum: Efficacies will be tested on beech, oak and Scots pine.

Fusarium spp. in maize and wheat – BCA based on Trichoderma harzianum: Strain characteristics, effective dose, formulation for seed treatment and field efficacy will be examined.

Powdery mildew disease – BCA based on fungal antagonist: New isolates will be screened and tested in wheat crops.

Soil-borne Verticillium wilt – BCA based on Serratia plymuthica and Paenibacillus polymyxa: Molecular characteristics, effective doses, fermentation and formulation for seed treatment and effects on Brassica crops will be examined.

Pest control

Aphids in fruit tree crops – BCA based on parasitoids: New parasitoids will be identified. Mass-rearing and integration in IPM strategies will be examined.

Cabbage moth – BCA based on Telemonus sp.: Rearing systems, storage and transport logistics, field efficacy and the integration in IPM will be examined.

Gypsy moth – BCA based on LdMNPV: The efficacy against Lymantria dispar will be examined in field trials.

Large pine weevil – BCA based on entomopathogenic nematodes: Efficacy will be assessed under field conditions in Ireland and Poland. Persistence and effects on non-target organisms will be examined.

Potato moth and tomato leaf miner – BCA based on PhopGV: Production, genetic and biological stability and application strategies will be examined.

White fly and diamondback moth – BCA based on Isaria fumosorosea: Efficacy, possible side-effects against beneficial insects and reliability in crops will be examined.

Production technologies

In vitro production of entomopathogenic viruses will lead to a breakthrough in economic production. This technology is investigated for LdMNPV.

Downstream-technology and shelf life for entomopathogenic nematodes will be improved. Nematodes will also be improved by genetic selection. This will allow the marketing in large scale open-field markets.

Project Results:
Substantial progress has been achieved for the biocontrol agents against pest and diseases. The new beneficial strains of viruses, nematodes, bacteria, fungi and parasitoids gave promising results in bioassays and under greenhouse and field conditions. Updates of results and various slideshares illustrating the research activities have been posted via Eight newsletters are available on the website and have been sent to an increasing number of subscribers. During this reporting period there were 56290 page views and 24795 visitors on the website.

Disease control

Brown rot of stone fruit: Two formulated products of each biocontrol agent (Penicillium frequentans Pf909 and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens CPA-8) have been developed with good stability. The formulations showed high efficacy to control brown rot in stone fruit crops in Italy, Belgium, France and Spain.

Fungal root diseases in nurseries: Trichoderma harzianum, Serratia plymuthica and Paenibacillus polymyxa reduced disease incidence of damping-off in Scots pine and beech seedlings, however no effect was shown in pedunculate oak.

Fusarium spp. in maize and wheat: A wettable powder-formulation of T. harzianum strain DSM25764 for treatment of wheat and maize seeds has been developed. Effects of soil pH, water availability and Fusarium pathogens on root colonization by DSM25764 and its ability to induce systemic resistance were investigated.

Powdery mildew disease: More than 1200 fungal isolates, originating from powdery mildew pustules, have been evaluated. Ten selected antagonists were tested in small-scale field trials in spring wheat. Two isolates consistently reduced powdery mildew.

Soil-borne Verticillium wilt: For Verticillium-wilt disease in Brassica effects of bacterial treatments were strain- and disease-pressure specific. Screening for new endophytes of Brassicaceae with antagonistic properties against Verticillium longisporum is ongoing.

Pest control

Aphids in fruit tree crops: Two parasitoid wasps (Diaeretiella rapae and Ephedrus plagiator) against aphids were evaluated in peach and cherry orchards in Belgium and Spain. Preventive releases of these parasitoids gave promising results in Spain in 2016. High parasitism of aphids was observed.

Cabbage moth: A field delivery system for the parasitoid Telenomus sp. was developed and firsts efficacy trials were conducted. Results show a significant increase in parasitism percentage on cabbage moth when compared to natural occurring populations of Telenomus sp. on cabbage crops.

Gypsy moth: In vivo virus production was scaled up. In greenhouse and field conditions, ten isolates from LdMNPV were tested and three isolates were identified as the most effective for Lymantria dispar control.

Large pine weevil: Entomopathogenic nematodes reduced pine weevil in small scale field trials in Ireland and Poland.

Potato moth and tomato leaf miner: The formulated entomopathogenic virus PhopGV strain reduced damage in tomato and potato crops. At post-harvest stage tuber damage was reduced. Genomes of 10 PhopGV isolates are currently under sequencing process.

White fly and diamondback moth: Formulations of two strains of Isaria fumosorosea reduced infestation of III-IV instar nymphs of white flies on tomato and eggplant under greenhouse conditions in Greece and Italy and reduced diamondback moth under field conditions in Sweden.

Production technologies

The optimisation of the process parameters for the in vitro production of LdMNPV in dynamic systems was done with the micro bioreactor system BioLector®. The nucleocapsids of the produced LdMNPV occlusion bodies are analysed by electron microscopy in order to detect any structural changes during serial passage in the cell culture.

A new water treatment system, additional washing steps and higher aeration improved storage of entomopathogenic nematodes. Genetic traits for improved beneficial characters such as high virulence and survival have been identified.

Potential Impact:
The expected final result of BIOCOMES is the generation of knowledge and innovative solutions for pest and disease management targeted to new biological control products that are effective and can readily and sustainably be introduced into the market. This will support the policy (i.e. Directive 2009/128/EC) laying down that all farmers will have to apply the general principles of integrated pest management by January, 2014.
The project contributes to the development of 11 completely new biological control agents for application in major crops and forestry and transformational improvement of 2 industrial production technologies. The proposal has been initiated by 6 leading European manufacturers of biocontrol products who selected the targeted new innovative solutions of BIOCOMES. Major criteria for selection were: (i) Economic sustainability on the expected future markets, (ii) Ecological sustainability with low negative impact on the environment, and (iii) High bio-resource efficiency. Major markets for plant protection products in European agriculture, horticulture and forestry are targeted. The market-driven work program of BIOCOMES, the competence and heritage of 10 European SMEs, 3 larger enterprises, all qualified as front-runners of the industry, and the strong co-operation with 14 experienced S&T-partners guarantee that BIOCOMES will have a strong and significant impact on European agriculture, horticulture and forestry at the economic, environmental and social level.
The increase in the use of BCAs will have a significant social impact. The subsequent reduction in use of pesticides projected from BIOCOMES will reduce the exposure of workers in agriculture and forestry as well as consumers to toxic chemical agents. Moreover, the generation and dissemination of broad knowledge on new sustainable solutions for pest and pathogen management based on BCAs will improve the acceptance of these products in society.
BIOCOMES especially targets the markets in open crops, including arable crops and forestry where use of BCAs is far behind compared to protected crops. Field crops including oilseed crops are expected to be the emerging crop segments in biopesticide markets. Considering the huge acreages grown with arable and open field vegetable crops and forests, enormous markets are not reached at this moment by BCAs offering excellent opportunities for increasing sales of BCAs. This market-driven choice of BCAs together with the estimated growth rates for use of BCAs clearly demonstrates the significant impact that BIOCOMES will have on the market positions of the involved biocontrol SMEs and larger biocontrol industries as part of the European Knowledge Based Bio-Economy.
The involved bio-economy companies expect a significant increase in production and sales of BCAs, also resulting in an increase in employment of qualified employees. The BIOCOMES project will contribute in 2 ways. Industries will jointly develop new BCAs using complementary expertise of the network of industrial and scientific participants. Examples are the discovery of new BCA strains, risk assessments, and field trials. The substantial EU contribution enables industries to invest both into major developments of new technologies and into the development of new BCAs. This will open opportunities for transformational rather than incremental steps in business development of the involved bio-economy companies. Implementation of the new technologies will also allow a transformational rather than incremental step in the use of BCAs in European agricultural, horticultural and forestry practice as economically and ecologically viable alternatives to synthetic pesticides.

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