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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #402350

Research Project: Novel Approaches for Managing Key Pests of Peach and Pecan

Location: Fruit and Tree Nut Research

Title: A sustainable grower-based method for entomopathogenic nematodes production

item Hofman, Camila
item Steffan, Shawn
item Shapiro Ilan, David

Submitted to: Journal of Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/24/2023
Publication Date: 9/29/2023
Citation: Hofman, C.O., Steffan, S.A., Shapiro Ilan, D.I. 2023. A sustainable grower-based method for entomopathogenic nematodes production. Journal of Insect Science. 23,4;1-5.

Interpretive Summary: Beneficial nematodes (also known as entomopathogenic nematodes) are small round worms that are used as natural biopesticides. Unlike many chemical insecticides that are toxic to humans, other nontarget organisms, and the environment, beneficial nematodes only kill insects and are considered safe to the environment. Beneficial nematodes, however, can be expensive due to their production costs. In this paper, we describe a new approach where the farmer can produce his or her own beneficial nematodes in a sustainable fashion. The new method achieves continuous mass production by using nematode-infected insects as the source for each production round. The new method was compared to standard production methods of growing nematodes in insects, and the farmer-based approach was found to be superior. The farmer-based production method can be used widely in various cropping systems but is likely to be most suitable to relatively small acreage systems.

Technical Abstract: The entomopathogenic nematodes, produced through in vitro or in vivo methods, in the genera Steinernema and Heterorhabditis are effective insect biological control agents. In vivo production yields good quality nematodes, but the costs associated with obtaining insects and labor make this production system have a low economy of scale. Conceivably, if growers can produce their own nematodes, then cost could be reduced. Grower-based production systems described to date are not sustainable because they rely on outside sources to obtain or calibrate inoculum. Here, we describe a self-sufficient grower-based system where the grower can produce in-house nematodes after obtaining the initial inoculum from a reliable source. We validated our approach in two experiments comparing in vivo nematode production from standard White traps and a grower-based approach using polyacrylamide gel. For both tested species, Steinernema carpocapsae (Weiser) and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora Poinar, the grower-based approach produced equal to or more nematodes than the standard method. The sustainable system described herein has promise for wide adoption by growers.