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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #376605

Research Project: New Tools for Managing Key Pests of Pecan and Peach

Location: Fruit and Tree Nut Research

Title: Entomopathogenic Nematodes in Sustainable Food Production

item KOPPENHOFER, ALBRECHT - Rutgers University
item Shapiro Ilan, David
item HILTPOLD, IVAN - University Of Delaware

Submitted to: Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/26/2020
Publication Date: 8/20/2020
Citation: Koppenhofer, A.M., Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Hiltpold, I. 2020. Entomopathogenic Nematodes in Sustainable Food Production. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. (4)125.

Interpretive Summary: Entomopathogenic nematodes also called “beneficial nematodes” are potent natural control agents that have been commercialized widely for control of economically important insect pests. These nematodes only kill insects and are safe to humans and the environment. The nematodes kill arthropods with the aid of bacterial symbionts. Efficacy of the nematodes relies on both abiotic and biotic influences. Efficacy can be increased by through strain improvement and stabilization, as well as enhancing production, formulation and application technology; or through environmental manipulation. As technology to improve efficacy advances, entomopathogenic nematodes will continue to play a larger role in IPM across various cropping systems.

Technical Abstract: The emphasis of this review is on the use and potential of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) as biological control agents in sustainable food production across a wide range of agricultural and other commodities. To aid with the understanding of the potential of EPNs in sustainable food production, this review also provides overviews on EPN biology and ecology, mass production and application technology, and interactions with other management tools. First discovered in the 1920s, their commercialization as biopesticides in the 1980s was accompanied and followed by an exponential growth in research on their application, biology, and ecology, followed by a further expansion in more basic research areas since the mid-2000s. This review summarizes significant progress made in the research and application of EPN in insect pest management in important food crops including orchards, small fruit, maize, vegetables, tuber crops, greenhouses, and mushrooms. Significant factors affecting the success of EPN commercialization are also discussed. A growing interest in alternatives to synthetic insecticides and in organic agriculture opens opportunities for EPNs, but EPNs will need to be further improved with respect to efficacy, reduced costs, and ease of use. Moreover, their potential to recycle in host populations beckons to be further exploited for long term pest suppression.