FACCE ERA-NET+ New generation sustainable tools to control emerging mite pests under climate change

Lead Research Organisation: National Inst of Agricultural Botany
Department Name: Centre for Research

Abstract

Climate change will have serious and profound impacts on pests and diseases of agricultural crops in Europe and it is vital that new tools and management methods are developed to tackle the problems that will increasingly threaten EU food production as a result.
* In this project, for the first time, comprehensive state-of-the-art genomic, metabolomic and modelling methods will be used to develop the necessary tools and management methods for tackling spider mites that are increasingly serious pests of many important crops throughout the EU.
* This will not only be an outstanding contribution to spider mite management under climate change but crucially be an example, demonstrating how the best and most advanced methods can be applied to the vast array of other important pests and diseases that will develop because of climate change.
* Spider mite outbreaks and crop damage are strongly favoured by high temperatures and drought stress caused by climate change (especially in combination) that will have a serious impact not only in southern Europe and the Mediterranean basin but also throughout Europe because of more extreme weather events including heat waves and droughts. The two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae (TSSM), is a highly polyphagous species which attacks many crops and is adapting to attack several important new crops including grape vines and corn. Tetranychus evansi (TE) is a recently arrived alien invasive pest that is spreading through Europe and attacks important solanacious crops including tomato and potato.
* Phytoseiid predatory mites are the main naturally occurring predators that help regulate spider mite populations and are introduced as biocontrol agents for control of spider mites in commercial crops. They are sensitive to broad-spectrum insecticides and the increasing use of these insecticides to control other alien invasive pests, e.g. spotted wing Drosophila and brown marmorated stink bug, are harming them and causing more serious outbreaks of spider mites.
* In this project, teams from 7 EU countries and Canada will model the performance of each organism in plant-spider mite-predators tritrophic interaction under changing climatic (CC) conditions. This will be accompanied by determination of reciprocal transcriptional and metabolomics changes in plants (tomato and strawberry) and spider mites (TSSM and TE) upon their interactions under normal and CC scenarios. In addition, we will search for elicitors and effectors of TSSM and TE that are capable of modulating plant defences. Using Systems biology approaches, we will link performance of plants and mites with genome-wide changes in their responses. Thus, our study will not only model performance of organisms involve in tritrophic interaction, but will also model processes whose changes lead to modulated performance under CC. This comprehensive knowledge can then be used to develop new tools and methods for climate-smart pest control.

Technical Summary

WP1: Species distribution models and tritrophic interactions under CC scenarios in Europe
The combined effects of abiotic and biotic stress on the development and distribution of two mite pests, T. urticae (TSSM) and T. evansi (TE), and their predatory mite natural enemies, Neoseiulus californicus and Euseius gallicus under CC scenarios will be investigated through experimental and modelling approaches.
WP2: Reciprocal transcriptional responses of mites and plants under CC
The aim of this WP is to determine tomato and strawberry transcriptional responses to mite herbivory under varying CC (drought stress, high temperature).
WP3: Identification of plant and mite metabolites upon herbivory and CC
The objective of this work package is to comprehensively analyse the effect of CC (increasing temperature and reduced water availability) on the metabolome/lipidome of tomato and strawberry plants for both the non-infected and the mite-infected state.
WP4: Identification of mite elicitors/effectors and their activities
We aim to uncover mite elicitors/effectors and the interacting pathways in the plant. Modulation of plant defences by herbivorous arthropods has been shown to be meditated by salivary secretions and therefore mite saliva is a primary source to uncover potential elicitors/effectors.
WP5: Systems biology: Correlation of plant transcriptomics and metabolomic responses with tritrophic performance and mite transcriptome responses
Data from WPs 1-3 will be integrated with the aim to correlate transcriptional and metabolic changes (WPs 2 and 3) in different plant species subjected to the herbivory and adaptations of spider mites. To ultimately integrate gene expression and metabolite screens, we will have to map the current gene annotations of mites, strawberry and tomato on pathways.

Planned Impact

The GENOMITE research will produce knowledge with broad impacts on climate smart agriculture and pest control, basic science, development of tools and agricultural practices and agricultural industry, policy-making and society at large.
* Development of basic knowledge for climate smart agriculture
Our multidisciplinary consortium aims to produce basic understanding and fundamental knowledge on interactions between crop plants, pests and climate. The understanding of the holistic interaction between these 3 systems is currently lacking and prevents development of climate-smart agriculture and pest control concepts.
* Development of technologies and applications: agricultural industry
Our basic discoveries represent a novel avenue for development of climate-smart pest control technologies. Therefore, commercialization plan and experience of the GENOMITE consortium is critical for the development of the novel technologies.
* Impact on climate smart agriculture practices and approaches
The GENOMITE discoveries have a potential to introduce climate-smart spider mite control practices in agriculture.
* Societal impact: education and dissemination
The GENOMITE consortium has an ambitious plan to disseminate and educate broader public on scientific approaches to develop climate-smart pest control.
* Impact on policy development:
Our studies will have an important impact on EU policy development. Our project focuses on understanding and management of pests induced by climate change (T. urticae) and management of invasive introduces species (T. evansi). These case studies have a potential to influence development of agricultural policies.
In conclusion, the GENOMITE project has potential for development of broad impact including creation of new knowledge, technologies and approaches for climate-smart agriculture and sustainable pest control. In addition, impacts at the societal and policy-making level have potential to develop measures that equip policy makers with new tools to efficiently tackle the impact of climate change on agriculture and to educate general society on scientific potentials for sustainable agricultural development. The novelty of this approach, the international and trans-continental composition of our group and its critical mass of researchers puts us in a position to develop this ambitious program with relatively limited financial input but with broad impact in area of climate-smart agriculture.

Publications

10 25 50

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
BB/M018121/1 01/01/2015 31/01/2016 £475,537
BB/M018121/2 Transfer BB/M018121/1 01/02/2016 31/12/2017 £289,818
 
Description • Drought increases the fecundity of T. urticae and T. evansi through changes in plant metabolic composition - climate change may have a profound impact on economic crop damage caused by mites.
• Spider mite population modeling revealed that the spider mite ecological niche will expand with climate change, especially expanding northwards in Europe representing an increasing threat to crop security.
• Drought and mite feeding cause pronounced transcriptional and metabolomics changes in host plants (tomato and strawberry); expression of 2196 tomato transcripts and 3041 strawberry transcripts were affected by drought and/or mite herbivory - mite host adaptation state accounts for ~90% of these changes, while drought has a relatively minor effect on gene expression changes in both tomato and strawberry data sets.
• Mite host-adaptation status also profoundly affected mite transcriptional changes. 2980 and 1779 transcripts were differentially expressed between host-adapted and non-adapted mites for both tomato and strawberry, respectively. Drought stress had a minor effect on mite transcriptional changes.
• Spider mites manipulate the plant's induced responses by injecting protein molecules into the host plants. A collection of secreted peptides has been identified as a starting point for the characterization of their function and identification of plant protein/processes they interact with.
• Novel protocols for delivery of small molecules to spider mites were developed; they will provide a high-throughput platform for discovery of molecules with zero residues that can be efficient to control spider mites.
Exploitation Route The project Genomite focuses on understanding the interactions between spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), its host plants and climate change combining genomics, metabolomics and computer modeling approaches to understand the impact of climate change on this major cosmopolitan chelicerate pest. The results revealed that drought stress caused by climate change may have a profound impact on proliferation and economic crop damages caused by these pests. Spider mite population modeling under different climate scenarios and latitude-microenvironment studies (Stavrinidis et al. unpublished), revealed that the spider mite ecological niche will expand with climate change, especially expanding northwards Europe representing an increasing threat to crop security. Cumulatively the research provides novel data on spider mite expansion, interaction with plant stress caused by climate change and reveals novel molecular mechanisms that mites use to suppress plant defense response. These data will be critical for the development of novel sustainable management strategies aided by novel protocols developed by this project. Publications: 49 articles mainly in peer-
reviewed journals. Drought stress (and even mild drought stress) potently induces greater mite damage to its host-plants. Thus, mitigation of drought has a potential to reduce spider mite damage and reduce their populations. Growing stress-resistant varieties appears to be an alternative strategy that will reduce pest populations. In addition, introduction of other antiherbivory traits are becoming an imperative in order to shelter yield of drought-stressed plants. The functional analysis of transcriptomic and metabolomics data of host-plants (tomato and strawberries) will identify genes, programs and metabolites that can negatively affect mite fitness. These are potential breeding targets for development of mite-resistant crops. Experiments in progress will reveal metabolite profiles of plants attacked by spider mites as a potential source of plant molecules toxic to spider mites, providing potential plant-based pesticides coming from edible plants. Furthermore, the target(s) of spider mite injected proteins that manipulate plant defense need to be evaluated as potential breeding targets for plants that can resist spider mite damage.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description 10th Spider mite genome meeting Logrono, Spain 5-7 November 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact 3 day science conference focussed on the biology of spider mites at the genome, molecular and whole organism levels and their interactions with natural enemies and plants including crops
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description 8th spider mite genome meeting., Logrono, Spain 17-19 Oct 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact 3 day science conference focussed on the biology of spider mites at the genome, molecular and whole organism levels and their interactions with natural enemies and plants including crops
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description 9th spider mite genome meeting., Logrono, Spain 23-25 Oct 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact 3 day science conference focussed on the biology of spider mites at the genome, molecular and whole organism levels and their interactions with natural enemies and plants including crops
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Genomite General Assembly Gent Belgium 21-23 Jun 17 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Reporting and discussion of progress and management of the Genomite project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Genomite General Assembly Logrono Spain 20-21 Oct 16 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Reporting and discussion of progress and management of the Genomite project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Genomite General Assembly Logrono Spain 26-27 Oct 17 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Reporting and discussion of progress and management of the Genomite project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017