BIOLOGICAL PEST CONTROL OF INSECT PESTS THAT THREATEN TREE HEALTH

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: College of Science

Abstract

The Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce has identified a number of insects that pose a threat to UK trees and recommended that the UK "Develop and implement procedures for preparedness and contingency planning to predict, monitor and control the spread of pests". They also identified detection and biological control as areas of tree health where there were considerable knowledge gaps.

BIPESCO is an interdisciplinary project that will develop entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) and botanicals to control insect pests that pose a threat to UK trees. Botanicals with attractant or repellent properties will be used alone or with EPF in novel "lure and kill" and "stress and kill" pest control strategies. Attractants will be used to improve pest monitoring and mass trapping.

BIPESCO is timely because new EU legislation encourages the use of natural products as environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides, usage of which is being severely restricted (Directive 2009/128/EC). Demand for natural products is increasing, and will continue to increase. Thus, opportunity exists to develop these agents, and strategies that enhance their efficacy, to facilitate adoption in the market.

BIPESCO's specific aims are:
1. Identify strains of EPF pathogenic to current and emergent pest species.
2. Identify botanicals that attract or repel target pests.
3. Optimise synergy of EPF and botanicals for use in "lure and kill" and "stress and kill" strategies, and increase knowledge of mechanisms involved.
4. Validate efficacy of candidate EPF and botanicals in demonstration trials
5. Conduct risk assessments of products and strategies
6. Utilise data to determine socioeconomic benefits of products and strategies.

BIPESCO (Swansea University [SU; lead], Fera and Forest Research [FR]) have considerable experience in management of tree pests and development of new products and strategies to control them. SU has developed EPF and botanicals for pest control including the EPF Metarhizium anisopliae, which is effective in controlling pine weevil (PW) and black vine weevil. SU has identified several PW behaviour-modifying botanicals, and patented a PW attractant. SU will use its expertise to develop attractants and repellents for other pest species. Fera has experience working with emergent pest species such as oak processionary moth (a close relative of the pine processionary moth, PPM) and Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Fera will evaluate EPF and botanicals provided by SU against PPM and ALB in state-of-the-art quarantine facilities. Together with SU, they will identify synergies between EPF and botanicals and elucidate how stressing compounds enhance EPF efficacy. FR has expertise in management and modelling of a range of forest pests and has developed systems that advise growers on when to use pesticides. Together with SU and Fera, FR will test selected products and strategies in forest systems. BIPESCO will also conduct risk assessments on products and strategies, and generate knowledge on their socio-economic benefits.

BIPESCO has the support of seven industry partners (Sentomol, Lisk & Jones, UPM, Maelor Nurseries, Neem Biotech, Fargro and Greenerpol), representing the supply chain. The support (worth £328,591) includes resources (e.g. materials, trial sites, labour) and advice, giving added value to the project.

BIPESCO's outputs (indicated in specific aims, above) will have considerable academic and commercial impact. They will benefit forestry, commercial nurseries, and local authorities (urban landscapes), and will lead to strong and on-going collaborations with pest control and related companies. The outputs will provide solutions to control of potential invasive pests such as ALB, in accord with the LWEC call. This project will provide products and strategies for a large and expanding pest control market currently worth $49 billion, but expected to reach $59 billion by 2016.

Technical Summary

BIPESCO aims to develop novel and environmentally friendly pest control products and strategies to improve the management of native and non-native (invasive) pest insects.

The main objectives are to:
1. Build on previous work demonstrating effective control with EPF (M.anisopliae and B.bassiana) and establish the best strains of these two species against four target pest species: Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), pine processionary moth (PPM), pine weevil (PW]) and black vine weevil (BVW).
2. Use these EPF and a range of plant-derived botanicals to kill specific target pests both alone and in combination to determine effective synergies
3. Develop the role of these BCA in co-ordinated management strategies to reduce impacts of pest species by 'lure and kill' and 'stress and kill' approaches
4. Develop portable, cost-effective equipment for improved detection of target pests
5. Demonstrate applied field-based control of known pest species
6. Reduce the reliance on insecticides in pest control.

The main methods to be adopted are:
1. Field work and laboratory based quarantine screening of BCA will be used to determine virulence and stability against ALB, PPM, PW and BVW, and to elucidate why insects are more susceptible to infection.
2. Field trials will be established to test the two most promising strains against two native model insects in forest (PW) and nursery environments (BVW)
3. The efficacy of current monitoring traps will be enhanced using botanical attractants which will also concentrate populations for increased EPF infection
4. New prototype traps will be developed to improve trapping rates and thereby local pest monitoring and population control in collaboration with industry partners.
5. Field site management will also be used to manipulate and concentrate insect pest populations to enable improved local targeting with BCAs thereby also increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

Planned Impact

Pest Control Of Insect Pests That Threaten Trees And Human Health (BIPESCO)
BIPESCO will develop entomopathogenic fungi and botanicals to control existing and emergent insect pests that are a problem in forests and tree nurseries, and those which are a threat to human health and the environment. Botanicals with attractant or repellent properties will be used alone or with fungi in novel "lure and kill" and "stress and kill" pest control strategies. In addition, BIPESCO will increase understanding of the underlying mechanisms for increased susceptibility of stressed insects to fungal infection and will influence future control strategies, in part because the agents can be used at reduced application rates and cost. The products and strategies developed within the project will offer an environmentally friendly, sustainable method of pest control in the short, medium and long term, benefiting many sectors both directly and indirectly.

Beneficiaries will include researchers, industry (biopesticide producers and users), government agencies, local authorities, public bodies, environmental groups and the general public. The forestry sector will benefit from having benign alternatives to chemicals that are being withdrawn for the control of pine weevil, the most destructive pest in conifer forests. Nurseries and the horticultural sector will benefit in having efficacious products and strategies for control of black vine weevil larvae in nursery stock. Pine processionary moth (PPM) and Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) pose major threats to UK pine and hardwoods, respectively. Benign control products and strategies for these pests would benefit countries where they are endemic but, should they enter the UK, as recently with ALB, could play a major role in their eradication. Effective control of PPM will benefit the forestry sector from economic losses and also forest users (workers and tourists) at risk from urticating hairs released by the larvae and harmful to human health. ALB has a wide host range and, if unchecked, would have a profound impact on urban landscapes (e.g. horsechestnut, cherry, plane, elm, poplar, maple), biofuel crops (e.g. willow), natural and managed woodlands (e.g. ash, beech, birch, alder) which, in turn, would impact on the wildlife in those ecosystems. Botanicals offer a relatively inexpensive method of killing pests inside galleries so could be used to treat suspect infested wood.

BIPESCO will add to the diminishing arsenal of products for pest control and enable growers to comply with EU legislation (EC Regulation 1107/2009 & Directive 2009/128/EC) that oblige member states to implement principles of integrated pest management (IPM) with priority to be given to benign, non-chemical methods of pest control. BIPESCO products and IPM strategies address this legislation and will increase the competitiveness of UK enterprises in strategic areas of pest control. BIPESCO products are safer than conventional pesticides and will protect and benefit the general public and wildlife. Other benefits to stakeholders include: helping foresters comply with Forest Stewardship Council's certification scheme, creating wealth and jobs in important bioscience sectors (knowledge based economy), and ensuring sustained collaboration between the industry and non-industry partners. Other companies in the supply chain (non-participants) will also benefit (e.g. producers of botanicals, biodegradable polymers for controlled release of attractants/repellents). BIPESCO focuses on pests which are of major socio-economic importance. The outputs will benefit the UK and many significant overseas markets through the development by the project consortium of fungal and botanical based products, focussing on the gap in the market for safe alternatives. These products will also create the opportunity to target several market sectors (multiple income streams) reflected by several companies and government agencies participating in the project.

Publications

10 25 50

 
Description 1. Strains of Metarhizium brunneum were identified which are highly pathogenic to target pests. One of the strains is commercially available (Met52 sold by Fargro Ltd).
2. M. brunneum strains were shown to control other pests which impact on tree health e.g. larvae of the chestnut weevil and chestnut tortrix moth
3. Pine weevil adults avoid billet traps treated with M. brunneum Met52 (= V275). At least 2 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were identified which could account for the repellency.
4. The "Lure & Kill" strategy was shown to work for adult pine weevil. Promising results were obtained using pine billets as lures but these were considered heavy and costly to deploy so a new, lightweight surface trap was developed by Forest Research, one of the project partners with support from industry partners.
5. Current synthetic lures for pine weevil show much promise but more attractive lures need to be developed which could be dispensed from the surface trap.
6. M. brunneum VOCs were shown to have non-phytotoxic, antimicrobial and pesticidal properties.
7. M. brunneum conidia had ovicidal properties. They could kill Pine Processionary Moth (PPM) egg masses, preventing dispersal of the larvae.
8. Field trials showed that spore suspensions of M. brunneum and essential plant oils (ginger,eucalyptus), when injected into PPM nests, were highly effective in killing the PPM larvae with reduced risk to the operator. This strategy could be extended to other pest species whose larvae also produce silken nests (e.g. oak processionary moth).
9. Risk assessment studies show that M. brunneum inoculum poses some risk to terrestrial and aquatic non-target insects but this risk is small compared with that posed by chemical pesticides.
10. Synergy was observed between M. brunneum and an aquatic predator of mosquito larvae.
11. Stress management in insects was shown to involve several stress management genes (e.g. HSPs) but also a range of immune defence genes (e.g. antimicrobial peptides, super oxide dismutase, phenoloxidase).
12. Promising semiochemicals (attractants and repellents) were identified for black vine weevil (BVW) adults. However, superior results were obtained using potted Euonymus plants which was preferred by BVW for feeding and oviposition over soft fruit alternatives (e.g. strawberry).
13. Diverse biodegradable dispensers for controlled release of semiochemicals were evaluated under field conditions. Some promising candidates were identified.
14. The sex pheromone developed for the Western PPM (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) was shown to be equally effective for luring Eastern PPM (Thaumetopoea wilkinsoni). The pheromone could be used for both monitoring and mating disruption.
15. Metarhizium VOCs shown to have nematicide and molluscicide properties
Exploitation Route 1. Entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) strains have been identified which could be used to control a range of tree pest species. We show that EPF will kill different developmental stages of the pest such as the eggs, larvae and pupae of the pine processionary moth (PPM).
2. Botanicals were identified which could be used in diluted form to kill larvae of PPM inside the nest - reducing risks to operators. .
3. The "Lure & Kill" strategy was demonstrated for the pine weevil but could be extended to several other pest species.
4. Botanical or microbial repellents can be used to protect plants
5. EPF volatiles show promise as novel pesticides.
6. IP based on volatiles licensed to industry
7. Industry partner has filed 2 patents based on IP
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment,Other

URL http://www.swansea.ac.uk/biosci/researchgroups/biocontrolandnaturalproductsgroup/banp/projects/lwecbipesco/
 
Description Strains of the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum (formerly Metarhizium anisopliae) have been identified that are highly pathogenic to the target pests in this project. These strains (V275, ARSEF4556, ARSEf3297) have also been shown to be highly pathogenic to other arthropod pest species including the sweet chestnut weevil. Strain v275 ( = BIPESCO 5) is the same as the commercial product Met52 which is distributed in the UK by Fargro Ltd, one of the partners in the project . New markets have been identified which should lead to increased sales. Insect behaviour modifying chemicals (semiochemicals) have been identified which could be used to improve pest monitoring and control of certain pest species (e.g. Pine Weevil, Black Vine Weevil). Field studies show that Pine Weevil adults will avoid M. brunneum under certain circumstances, responding to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by the fungal biocontrol agent. Over 40 VOCs have been identified and the biological activity of some of these compounds has been established. IP for the VOCs showing promise as novo fumigants has been licensed to industry. Industry partner has submitted 2 patents based on our IP. Several new products are currently in development. Several prototype products tested.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Environment,Healthcare
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Wireworm control 
Organisation Certis UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Evaluation of products and strategies for control of wireworm. Products include entomopathogenic fungi. Strategies include lure and kill and stress and kill.
Collaborator Contribution Purchase of insects for testing, support in field trials, provision of different formulations to screen as efficacy enhancing agents
Impact Work still in progress. New findings made regarding "stress and kill" pest control strategy. Outputs should appear later this year..
Start Year 2017
 
Description 5th Entomopathogens and Microbial Control Congress, Ankara, Turkey 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The aim of the congress was to bring scientists working on "entomopathogens and microbial control" together, and provide them a platform to share their latest findings and exchange ideas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://emc2015agri.en.ankara.edu.tr/
 
Description Adnan Menderes University, Aydin, Turkey 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum shown in pot trials to be effective in killing the chestnut weevil - a major pest in chestnut forests. A strategy developed which would reduce pest population significantly making significant savings for growers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015
 
Description BBC Farming Today 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Interviewed by Farming today on current work to develop environmentally friendly biological pesticides for crop pest control. Discussed some cutting edge research on novel compounds for slug, snail, nematode and insect control.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bfx5d5
 
Description BBC's Nature's Weirdest Events october 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributed to BBC's Nature's Weirdest Events, a documentary which focuses on unusual natural behaviours and events, and explains the science behind them. Acknowledged for advice given on processionary moth larvae.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description British Science Festival (Swansea) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Well over 6000 people attended the British Science Festival held in Swansea September 2016. We had a stand entitled "The Good, Bad & Deadly" which focsussed on arthropods which impact on plant and human health. Exhibits included some of the current work on control of pests affecting tree health (semiochemicals, pine weevil etc). The stand was visited by many people including school teachers who invited us to exhibit and educate children in their respective schools.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.swansea.ac.uk/british-science-festival-2016/
 
Description Global Food Security Workshop (London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Workshop focussed on alternatives to chemical pesticides. My presentation was on "Using Biologicals to Manage Pests". The meeting was attended by representatives from industry (stakeholders representing supply chain), RCUK, HEI, research institutions, consultants etc. The event was held in Convent Garden, London 23 May 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Hylobius stakeholder meeting 22 September 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Stakeholders met to discuss progress made in developing products and strategies to control the pine weevil (Hylobius) a major forest pest
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description IUFRO Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Co-author of oral presentation made at IUFRO meeting, Freiberg, Germany 18-22 Sept 2017. Session 86: D7 - The science of tree health and how we can: Multidisciplinary research from the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (THAPBI). Title of talk: "Pine processionary moth eggs, early instar larvae and pupae are susceptible to the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium brunneum"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Institute of Charered Foresters 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Hester McQueen, ICF Marketing and Communications Officer, interviewed Professor Tariq Butt as he prepares to address the Institute's forthcoming National Conference: Innovation for Change in May 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://www.charteredforesters.org
 
Description International Congress of Entomology (Florida, USA) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The International Congress of Entomology was held in Orlando, Florida 25-30 September 2016. Over 4000 persons attended the congress. I was invited to give a talk at one of the sessions. My presentation was entitled "Biopesticides - innovative products and strategies for pest control". Delegates included representatives from academia, industry, NGOs and some policy makers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://ice2016orlando.org/
 
Description International Symposium on Biopesticides 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The biopestides symposium-workshop was a huge success. It attracted approximately 200 persons from over 26 countries. The meeting focused on the advances made in the development of biopesticides for pest control. Particular attention was given to innovative technologies and strategies which enhanced biopesticide efficacy and competitiveness. The new products and strategies will become a common feature of future pest control programmes. The meeting also examined new tools and methods developed to accelerate discovery of new biopesticides and for quality assurance. Many of the products developed for pests within one sector are proving effective in other sectors. Therefore, the meeting benefited many stakeholders (researchers, growers, industry, government agencies) from the disparate sectors (forestry, agriculture, horticulture, human health, livestock production). There were 22 stands, approximately 40 posters, a networking session and workshops. There was excellent industry support for the meeting (ca. 60 companies attended).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.swansea.ac.uk/biosci/researchgroups/biocontrolandnaturalproductsgroup/banp/symposiuminfor...
 
Description Invited speaker at Institute of Chartered Foresters National Conference on "Tree Health, Resilience & Sustainability", Cardiff 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The aim of the conference was to enable delegates to discuss the tree health challenges facing forestry and arboricultural professionals in the UK today, and to assess and determine ways to resolve these issues.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.charteredforesters.org/tree-health-resources/
 
Description Keynote speaker at SIP meeting, Valencia, Spain 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presented talk on "Can insects develop resistance to insect-pathogenic fungi?" This is a topic of major concern to stakeholders since many funal strains are being develped as alternatives to chemical insecticides for the control of crop pests adn vectors of human and animal diseases
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://congresos.adeituv.es/SIP-IOBC-2019/paginas/pagina_528_3.en.html
 
Description Keynote speaker at Scientific Conference, Kayseri, Turkey 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Gave talk on "Metarhizium a multifunctional microbe" to mixed audienec of academics, industry and students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Oak Processionary Moth Research Overview Meeting 1st February 2016, Friends House, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop reviewed products and strategies developed to control Oak Processionary Moth. I was invited to participate and give an update on work done to control Pine Processionary Moth. Much information was exchanged.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Outreach to local schools in Swansea 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Over 200 primary school children will attend a workshop 16 March 2017 held at Parkland Primary School. The workshop focuses on insects. It includes interactive aids, live specimens and other items which will enhance the childrens experience and expand their knowledge of insects. The workshop provides an opportunity for children to learn more about the work we are doing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation to general public on work to develop fungi for pest control 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Gave a talk to Swansea U3A members at Swansea University 13 February. Title of talk "Fungal control of insect pests: killing the killers". The talk focussed on work we had done on fungal control of arthropod disease vectors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://u3asites.org.uk/walesu3a/home
 
Description Swansea Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact his built on the success of the British Science Festival. This event attracted over 8000 people. Prof Butt had a stand at the family weekend event. One of the topics covered was camouflage and how insects avoid detection.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Symposium at Uppsala University on challenges and future prospects of biological control 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited speaker and participant of Symposium in Uppsala on challenges and future prospects of biological control. The theme for the symposium was: Biological control in crop protection - present challenges and future prospects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.slu.se/en/ew-news/2018/5/symposium-in-uppsala-on-challenges-and-future-prospects-of-biol...
 
Description THAPBI meeting Kew 25 March 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Special meeting of successful applicants of LWEC THAPBI grants as well as sponsors (RCUK, defra etc) and other stakeholders
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description The Clean Agriculture Conference "Towards Safe Agricultural Products" was held in Qassim University, Saudi Arabia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference on new crop protection technologies which reduce inputs of conventional chemical pesticides.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2015
 
Description Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (THAPBI) Workshop 7-8 October 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop brought together investigators of projects funded within the LWEC THAPBI programme to report on progress made to date and to identify ways of exploiting synergies between projects. The meeting was also attended by the Government Chief Plant Health Scientist and representatives from RCUK and defra.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative dissemination event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact THAPBI dissemination event 7 February 2018 at Radisson Blu Edwardian Grafton, London. Gave a tak on BIPESCO project and discussed outputs with stakeholders
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018