ENDORSE: ENhancing Diversity to Overcome ReSistance Evolution

Lead Research Organisation: University of Stirling
Department Name: Biological and Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Despite its place as a global leader in agriculture, each year the Brazilian agricultural economy loses approximately $15 billion to insect crop pest outbreaks. Indeed, insects consume 10-20% of all global crops while growing or in storage. Current agricultural practices in Brazil rely heavily on widespread pesticide application, which has led to the evolution of pesticide resistance in several significant insect pests. Such practices undermine the sustainability of important crop pest control technologies, reduce associated economic returns, and exacerbate the risks to economic production and food security in Brazil. We propose a revolutionary approach to pest management that will enhance the sustainability and long-term resilience of crop production, providing the benefit of managing insect pests more predictably.

Our solution comes from evolutionary science and the particular features of host-pathogen interactions. Insecticide resistance evolution occurs when a single control agent is applied over a broad area, then consistent evolutionary pressures drive rare resistance genes to spread rapidly through the pest population. To prevent these sweeps of resistant alleles, we are investigating how multiple fungal pathogen strains can be used in a spatial matrix across agricultural landscapes, so that selection for resistance varies in different locations, preventing a uniform evolutionary response. On their own, multiple pathogen strains may not be sufficient because of cross resistance: genes making pests resistant to one fungal strain could also confer resistance to others. However, in host-pathogen systems, the optimum genotype to defend against one pathogen is often highly sensitive to the organism's environment. Simultaneous manipulation of an environmental landscape variable (the type of crop grown by farmers) will substantially decrease the consistency of selection: we predict this will prevent resistance evolution.

In order to achieve real-world effectiveness of this pest control system, an integrated team of Brazilian and UK researchers will work together to establish the long-term prospects of our new solution. The aims are to:

1. Examine whether genetic variation for insect susceptibility to multiple fungal biopesticides under heterogeneous agricultural landscapes is stable, and assess how it responds to selection in the long-term. This will allow us to anticipate and avoid selection for resistance to multiple strains, and ensure the long-term sustainability of our pesticide resistance management system.

2. Investigate the suitability of fungal biopesticides for industrial scale production and field application in Brazil, which will facilitate product development for future industrial investment. We will also provide farmers and the crop protection industry with solutions for crop protection technology deployment, including improved delivery systems, higher pest control consistency and enhanced performance under field conditions.

3. Identify the barriers to uptake of our new pest control technologies and research methods to encourage farmer behavioural change. This research will provide economic and social science data to underpin advice for policy recommendations regarding incentive schemes, publicity campaigns and marketing strategies, thereby promoting uptake of these sustainable pest management practices.

Planned Impact

Our work has several clear beneficiaries. We summarise them below, along with explanations for how each will benefit.

Farmers and the farming economy

Our ambition to develop a sustainable system of pest management using fungal biopesticides will benefit individual farmers and the broad agricultural economy. Farmers will be able to better control insect pests, and consequently harvest higher yields, while the increased stability achieved by decreasing the likelihood of resistant herbivore outbreaks will minimize losses and insurance claims, and reduce overall volatility in the agricultural sector. If our project is successful, the benefits could extend well beyond São Paulo State and be useful for the types of agricultural systems across Brazil (and indeed elsewhere globally).


Industrial partners

A sustainable pest control technology presents advantages to the industrial partner(s) who develop products from our initial isolates. Although the work involved in developing fungal biopesticides is not trivial, companies will be much more likely to recover their investments and secure good profits if the technology is applied in a way that minimizes the chance of pest resistance evolution, and therefore secures the long-term financial rewards of investing in research and development on biopesticides. Because increasing environmental complexity may help expose the costs of hosts carrying resistance genes to other pest-control measures, our system may also incidentally help rescue some technologies that are no longer effective thanks to previous insecticide resistance; such an outcome would help not only farmers but also producers of other pest control products that have suffered rapid evolution of pest resistance (e.g. some Bt cultivars).

Policymakers

Those within national and local government agencies will also benefit from policy recommendations provided by our economic and social science advice, which will highlight the promise of these technologies at both egional and national levels, illuminate efficacy of incentive schemes, and demonstrate how these technologies can improve the agricultural economy.

The wider public

Being able to manage insect pests more predictably is likely to improve food security in both developed and developing nations. If implemented on a wide scale in the future, we expect that a more heterogeneous worldwide agricultural landscape in combination with an arsenal of appropriate biopesticides, will stabilise food prices and help minimize local food shortages that are a source of suffering, inequality and conflict. In addition, the public will benefit from reduced ecological costs of current pest control practices. For example, chemical pesticides are known to have adverse consequences for non-target organisms living on or near agricultural land. The benefits to ecosystems will pay dividends to the public, because of the many services that healthy ecosystems provide, including to agriculture, for example, in the form of plant pollination and predation of pests.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Stirling Spark: Sustainable Futures for Kenyan Crop Protection
Amount £14,803 (GBP)
Organisation University of Stirling 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2019 
End 07/2020
 
Description International Mentoring Partnership Programme (IMPP) 
Organisation Sao Paulo State University
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Several members of the team engaged heavily in the first IMPP iteration which was initiated by Stirling and UNESP in June 2019, including two mentors (Luc Bussière and Leonardo Fraceto) and two mentees (Rosie Mangan and Alexander Duthie). This is an ongoing programme that pairs early career scientists in Stirling and UNESP with more senior colleagues at the partner institution for the purpose of career development and international exchange.
Collaborator Contribution In addition to ENDORSE team members, another 14 scientists participated in the inaugural programme. All participants were paired with another scientist from the other country.
Impact Reciprocal visits to Brazil for Stirling participants are planned for the next year or so, which may involve presentations by travelling scientists one various UNESP campuses.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Sustainable biopesticide use in Kenyan horticulture 
Organisation University of Nairobi
Country Kenya 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We initiated a collaboration with Dr. George Ong'amo last year that brings our expertise in biopesticides, insect pathology and evolutionary biology to Kenya in order to explore applications of the evolutionarily sustainable pest control approach we developed in our BBSRC funded research.
Collaborator Contribution Dr. George Ong'amo and his Kenyan team provide strong skills in the field ecology of insect crop pests, and facilitate interactions with key stakeholders in the Kenyan horticulture research and pest control sectors.
Impact NA; outputs still pending.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Dr. Rosie Mangan Presentation at the 2019 Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology in Turku, Finland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr. Rosie Mangan presented our work at a special Symposium on Human-Induced Evolution at the 2019 Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology in Turku, Finland. The research talk generated much discussion and an engaging series of questions and answers with evolutionary biology researchers in attendance. It also sparked the interest of the editors of scientific journals for possible publication routes.
The included link provides a video archive of the session in which Rosie presented.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.rajulive.fi/streams/session6-thursday-morning/
 
Description Engagement activities and interviews in 5 Brazilian States: São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Goias, Tocantins, Parana 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The CAB Intl Brazil team lead interaction and workshops with farmers' groups to discuss insecticide resistance and get information about farmers' experience on IPM in 5 Brazilian States: São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Goias, Tocantins, Parana
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description GCRF Networking Meeting at Stirling University 
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 This was a workshop to promote collaborative research opportunities between Stirling University and researchers in India, specifically those involved in Plant Protection and Plant Breeding. Dr. Matthew Tinsley presented our work, which led to discussions on the potential for on-farm culturing of fungal entomopathogens on Indian farms. Discussions of possible future funding bids are ongoing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Institutional seminar UNAM by Dr. Ricardo Polanczyk: "Approaches to improve biopesticide use in IPM systems" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This seminar was part of a special monthly series and was disseminated electronically to many branch campuses as well as the local audience. Following the seminar, Dr. Polanczyk received many questions and engaged in prolonged discussions about the relevance of our approach for agriculture across Latin America. Ongoing discussions are underway to collaborate with UNAM scientists on future work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Latin American Biological Control Symposium, Chile, October 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation by Dr. Yelitza Colmenarez of the Endorse project objectives and main topics at the Latin American Biological Control Symposium- Chile, October 2019. Discussed with key participants the importance of managing insect resistance to pesticides and advocated use of alternative methods of control, such as Biological Control. This is a topic of wide interest in all of Latin America. As a result of the participation in Chile, I got invited to present the project in more detail and to work as part of the Organizer and scientific Committee of the 1st SYMPOSIUM OF RESISTANCE TO INSECTICIDES AND ACARICIDES, which will happen in Brazil, in June 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Meetings with Embrapa Soy Bean, October 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr. Yelitza Colmenarez and CABI Brazil Team lead discussions with target people from Embrapa Soy Bean about the importance of the ENDORSE project, its objective and main activities to be implemented in Brazil, October 2019.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation at Society of Invertebrate Pathology Conference / International Organisation for Biological Control 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr. Matthew Tinsley presented our work in a symposium on fungi as biocontrol agents. The presentation led to links with new scientific colleagues, and led to networking opportunities in Africa that will be exploited for future research plans and bids.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.sipweb.org/docs/abstract-program2019Valencia.pdf
 
Description Presentation by Dr. Ricardo Polanczyk at IUPAC 2019 in Ghent, Belgium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr. Polanczyk presented work on using encapsulated particles along with fungi as part of integrated pest management, and included some material on the BBSRC/FAPESP-funded work. The audience (primarily nanotechnology experts) reported interest in how technology might be used to further enhance environmental heterogeneity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.iupac2019.be/
 
Description Seminar presentation at Rhodes University, South Africa, by Dr. Rosie Mangan in May 2019: Harnessing ecological and evolutionary science to manage resistance evolution in agricultural pests 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited by Martin Hill, the director of The Centre for Biological Control and Head of Entomology, Dr. Rosie Mangan presented preliminary findings from our work on evolutionarily sustainable biocontrol, including results of quantitative genetic experiments from Stirling and practical experiments at UNESP. The talk was followed by numerous questions and discussions. Rosie was also invited to speak with PhD and Masters students regarding their research on biological control of South Africa's most significant agricultural pests and advised on medium to long insect immunity experiments the students were conducting. This occasion also lead to meetings with the research staff and research associates of the Centre of Biological Control to discuss future collaborative possibilities involving the application of our principles to South African agricultural systems and possible routes of funding to begin the projects
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Siconbiol 2019 Conference 
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 Presentation by Dr. Yelitza Colmenarez of the Endorse project objectives and main topics at Siconbiol 2019 and Publicity of the Endorse project in the Siconbiol 2019 conference App used by participants of the events. After the presentations, different people were interested to get to know the results at the field level in Brazil. I told them that we will produce a report at the end of the project and that we only have preliminary results.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://siconbiol.com.br/
 
Description Workshop on Evolution of Quantitative Resistance Traits in Pests, UNESP Jaboticabal, Brazil 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I led a postgraduate course (a "discipline") for MSc and PhD students over three days that covered a review of genetic theory, the nature of selection and response in complex continuous traits, and the implications for this theory on managing resistance to biopesticides. Participants prepared oral presentations on topics related to the subject, and we engaged in discussion on the best ways to improve the evolutionary sustainability of pest control.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019