Fungal Biopesticide Development

We’re using temperature controlled shakers, incubators and computer-controlled spraying apparatus to test potential bio-pesticides. Samples which have performed well have already being taken forward to mass production studies. One imminent area of interest to farmers and the agrichemical industry is examination of oil seed rape to extract cabbage flea stem beetle and carry out bioassays to find possible fungal pathogens.

 Why is there a need

Now is the time and opportunity to tackle a range of pests and diseases for the major UK crops using biological pesticides. With chemical pesticides being banned for use, and fewer chemical active ingredients coming onto the market, the demand for biological control has never been greater. The EU sustainable pesticide usage Directive 2009/128/EC sets out clear guidelines that include the development and usage of biological pesticides, to help reduce the risks to people and the environment.

What is the asset

CHAP will facilitate the development of novel, large scale screening for potential fungal biopesticides to control the main crops identified as current relevance to UK agriculture and the UK’s food supply chain. Using temperature controlled shakers, incubators and computer-controlled spraying apparatus, CABI will develop a biopesticide product development pipeline and prove principle by screening an initial batch of biopesticides from the CABI culture collection to determine pathogenicity to a range of insect pests – as selected by the commercial partners. One imminent area of interest to farmers and the agrichemical industry is examination of oil seed rape to extract cabbage flea stem beetle and carry out bioassays to find possible fungal pathogens.

Why is it of interest to farmers

With the current chemical armoury almost empty, now is the time to develop these new products which could result in high economic returns giving farmers alternatives or replacements to banned chemical pesticides. One specific area of interest to farmers and the agrichemical industry is the examination of oil seed rape to extract cabbage flea stem beetle and carry out bioassays to find possible fungal pathogens.

For more information please contact

Belinda Luke at CABI (b.luke@cabi.org).

The CHAP Fine Phenotyping Unit

Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire houses the Fine Phenotyping Unit for CHAP. This facility uses cutting-edge imaging technology, and automated image processing, to assess plant responses to biotic threats (i.e. pathogens, pests and weeds). In addition, insect sensitivity to pesticides can be assessed using behavioural / mortality assays.

Why is there a need

The Asset will provide a national capability for the image-based phenotyping (assessment) of crop responses to biotic threats. The widespread adoption of high-throughput genotyping technologies has revolutionized activities such as plant breeding, but crop phenotyping is typically still done manually. The laboratory will help address this discrepancy and so facilitate the rapid deployment of novel control strategies. Furthermore, as the remote sensing of disease in precision agriculture becomes more prevalent there will be a growing need to optimize imaging for specific pests/pathogens.

What is the Asset

The laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for image-based assessment of crop responses to pathogens, pests and weeds (see Figure 1 for more details). Capabilities will include the high-throughput phenotyping of disease progression, the potential for pre-symptomatic detection of disease using a range of sensors, and the ability to determine the spectral signatures for specific diseases. Growth chambers, and access to the extensive Rothamsted greenhouse facilities, will allow characterization of crop responses under a range of environmental conditions with / without pesticides or bio-control agents.

How it can help the agricultural sector

We are now ready to accept projects from both industrial and academic partners.

Project goals could include:

  • Identifying plants that exhibit novel resistance traits to pathogens or pests
  • Evaluating new chemistries or bio-control agents for pest, pathogen or weed control
  • To understand more about the growth, development and behaviour of a biotic threat under different weather conditions
  • Determining the spectral signatures for specific diseases for use in remote sensing applications

To receive more information on this asset, book a tour of our facilities or discuss a potential collaboration with us, please contact:

Tom Ashfield (tom.ashfield@rothamsted.ac.uk); +44 (0) 1582 938 177

Andrew Spencer (andrew.spencer@ rothamsted.ac.uk); +44 (0) 1582 938 312

Linda Field (lin.field@rothamsted.ac.uk); +44 (0) 1582 938 355

 

Figure 1:

Lemnatec Scanalyzer For Automated Phenotyping*

  • High-content: A range of cameras allow detection of symptoms not visible to the naked eye.
  • High-throughput: Automated imaging and image-processing.

* The current model (shown) has sensors for RGB and steady state fluorescence imaging. We will shortly be receiving an updated model with an integrated plant growth space for automated time-course experiments. The new model will also have additional sensors (a 3D laser scanner, and cameras for imaging in the NIR and for assessing photosynthetic efficiency).

Uses Include:

  • Screening germplasm for novel pathogen / pest resistance traits
  • Testing pesticide efficacy
  • Testing bio-control agents
  • Testing the impact of environmental conditions on disease progression

VideometerLab For Multispectral Imaging

  • Taking a series of images with light of different wavelengths (19 wavelengths from UV into the NIR) allows the detection of features not visible to the naked eye.
  • Filters allow assessment of fluorescence.
  • Control and treated samples can used to ‘train’ the system to identify and quantify features of interest.

Uses Include:

  • Determining the spectral signatures for specific diseases
  • Disease symptom detection and quantification
  • Fusarium detection on grain
  • Variety testing
  • Hydration & germination studies for brewing & malting
  • Colony counting and identification

Other Equipment / Facilities Include: Portable XIMERA multispectral cameras for glasshouse / field plot imaging, controlled environment chambers for plant growth and disease assays, access to the Rothamsted greenhouse and insectory facilities.