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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Insect Pathology
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1 - Biocontrol using fungi
2 - Emerald Ash Borer
Biocontrol using fungi




Biological Control of Insect Pests Using Fungi

Healthy and Fungus-infected Colorado potato beetles

Why Biological Control?

In most of the world’s agricultural production systems, the near complete reliance on synthetic chemical pesticides has created a well known cascade of problems, which often starts with development of insecticide resistance.
 The application of increasing amounts of pesticides to kill resistant pests leads to higher and unpredictable production costs for growers and greater risk to applicators, the general public and the environment.
 The Food Quality Protection Act limits use of many  insecticides long relied upon to control insect pests.
 Safe, effective, economical alternative control agents are urgently needed.

Healthy and Fungus-infected aphids

 

 Why Use Fungi?

Insect pathogenic fungi are important natural regulators of pest insect populations
Their great potential as biological control agents is derived from a number of characteristics:

Healthy and fungus-infected
silverleaf whiteflies

• Safe for greenhouse managers and applicators.

• Safe for consumers (no toxic residues)

• Safe for soils and water supplies

• Effective against pests of both field and greenhouse crops

• Compatible with existing pesticide application systems

• Easily integrated into many crop management systems

• Compatible with organic production systems

• Safer for beneficial insects than chemical insecticides

How Can We Make Fungi More Effective Through Research?

>By developing better methods for application of fungal spores<

Germinating fungal
spore attached to
insect cuticle

               Diamondback moth
caterpillers showing
different stages
of infection

 

 >By developing better methods for application of fungal spores<

 Fungal spores can be
applied using conventional
spray equipment in the
field and in the
greenhouse.

 

 

>By exploiting the natural genetic traits of fungi<

Selective growth media
aid the resolution of fungi
from fields and greenhouses.                                              

Molecular genetic techniques
allow precise identification of
fungal strains and manipulation
of useful fungal genes. 

 
The Biological Integrated Pest Management Unit (BioIPM), located in the Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture and Health on the Cornell University Campus, has, for more than 20 years, played a critical role in world-wide efforts to develop insect pathogenic fungi for biological control of insect pests of agriculture.  The BioIPM maintains the world’s largest collection of entomopathogenic fungi (ARSEF Culture Collection) and conducts biologically-based pest management research on numerous key pests of greenhouse and vegetable crops, including thrips, aphids, whiteflies, diamondback moth and Colorado potato beetle.

 

Team Members


Dr. John D. Vandenberg, Research Entomologist and Lead Scientist Insect Pathology Program
Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Entomology Cornell University
Louela Castrillo, Research Scientist, Department of Entomology, Cornell University
Mike Griggs, Support Scientist, Entomologist

Dr. Stephen P. Wraight, Ecologist/Insect Pathologist, Adjunct Professor Dept. of Entomology, Cornell University

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Last Modified: 3/17/2014
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