Location: Fruit and Tree Nut ResearchTitle: Discovering and improving microbial biocontrol methods for managing key pecan pests
Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/13/2023
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Pecan (Carya iliinoinensis) is a native nut crop in North America that is now being produced for commercial purposes in the U.S.A and various other countries. A number of insect pests limit the productivity of pecan in North America. Generally, chemical insecticides are used to control insect pests in pecan. However, due to environmental and regulatory concerns alternative measures of pest control are needed. Microbial control uses insect disease-causing agents (e.g., virus, bacteria, fungi or nematodes), or their by-products, to reduce pest populations. There are several successful examples of using microbial agents to control pecan pests on a commercial level. Nonetheless, steps can be taken to develop new microbial control strategies or to improve existing ones. Steps to improve microbial control efficacy include 1) improving the biocontrol organism (such as through discovery of new strains, hybridization, genetic selection or transgenics), 2) improving the production system to enhance quality of microbial agents or reduce costs, 3) improving formulation and application techniques, and 4) improving understanding the basic ecology and biology of microbial agents so the knowledge can be leveraged to enhance biocontrol efficacy in the future. This paper outlines those steps and provides examples from pecan-insect systems in the U.S.A.