Ecophyto Maturation - Ecophyto Maturation

Development of a new concept in plant protection applied to apple scab – ENFIN!

The objective of the ENFIN! project is to test the effectiveness of a breakthrough technical itinerary in apple orchards. ENFIN! is based on two innovations patented by INRAE which exploit the diversity of the fungus responsible for apple scab: one renders the pathogen non-virulent in the manner of an autocidal control, the other reduces the symptoms of the disease

ENFIN! aims to offer arboriculturists a breakthrough technical itinerary to help reduce the use of fungicides in apple orchards on the basis of two patented inventions

Apple tree cultivation, which represents a world market of 58 million tons, is the most treated agricultural production in France. The fight against the scab disease due to the ascomycete fungus Venturia inaequalis (Vi), represents 50% of the total treatments carried out in orchards, that is to say between 15 and 28 per year in knife apples and between 3 and 8 in cider apples.<br />This massive use of fungicides is not without environmental and even human health problems. From a practical point of view, the current and future withdrawal of many fungicides from the market will lead producers to real technical impasses. With ENFIN! we propose a biocontrol solution that aims to offer arboriculturists a breakthrough technical itinerary based on two inventions patented by INRAE that exploit the diversity of the fungus. In nature, V. inaequalis is made up of different populations that have diverged more or less recently. Their evolution in different ecological habitats has led these populations to specialize on different hosts of the rosaceae family (apple, pyracantha, sorbus, etc.) and in some cases to no longer be able to interbreed. The populations infecting apple and pyracantha respectively have kept the possibility to interbreed. We have observed, under controlled conditions, that the «hybrid« offspring from these crosses do not infect apple. Our idea is to exploit this characteristic by forcing the apple pathogen (POMI) to cross in the orchard with pathogenic strains of pyracantha (PYR) in order to generate non-pathogenic «hybrids« in the spring. In concrete terms, this means introducing PYR strains massively and repeatedly in the fall when POMI strains are reproducing. By targeting the sexual phase of the fungus, this biocontrol strategy, which renders the pathogen non-virulent, is similar to the autocidal control used to combat insects. The second invention is based on the fact that we have observed, under controlled conditions, that the application of PYR strains on apple trees has a protective effect against a subsequent scab attack.The strategy to be tested is to apply PYR strains in the spring to young apple shoots at the time of primary infections instead of spraying fungicides.<br />This project aims on the one hand to confirm in controlled conditions and in the field the effectiveness of these two innovations and to understand the mechanisms involved and on the other hand, to evaluate their sustainability on the environmental and socio-economic level.

Conducted in collaboration with two national technical centers (the Centre Technique Interprofessionnel des Fruits et Légumes-CTIFL, and the Institut Français des Produits Cidricoles-IFPC), the innovation will be tested during three seasons on four sites in France in orchards under production conditions. The PYR strains will be multiplied on an industrial scale. It is also planned to compare two formulation technologies. Economists from INRAE and CTIFL will evaluate via surveys the acceptance of this innovation by the industry (from the producer to the consumers).
The project is divided into 4 parts:
1- Testing the effectiveness of the 2 innovations in controlled conditions and in pilot orchards and understanding the mechanisms involved
2- Engineering for the deployment of the solution (industrial service)
3- Test the technical itinerary on 4 sites in France (CTIFL, IFPC and INRAE)
4 Evaluate the limits and sustainability of the strategy on the environmental and socio-economic levels

Expected deliverables:
Part 1:
Invention 1:
- Consolidate the results obtained on the non-pathogenicity of PYR x POMI hybrids on apple.
-Identify the conditions for saprophytic colonization of PYR strains, analysis of the colonization mode.
-Evaluate the ability of PYR and POMI strains to reproduce sexually in a competitive situation
Invention 2
-Define the duration necessary for the establishment of protection and the duration of protection
-Analyze the mechanisms involved in the establishment of protection (test the establishment of induced defenses)
-Risks incurred by the application of the two inventions towards non-target plants
Part 2
Production and formulation of PYR spores
Part 3:
- Invention 1: Effectiveness of the application of PYR strains in the fall at the 4 sites
Invention 2: Efficacy of spring application of PYR strains and/or PYR x POMI hybrids at all 4 sites
Invention 1 + 2: Efficacy of their combination will be evaluated at 3 sites
Part 4:
- Estimation of the risks of emergence of pathogenic hybrids
Socio-economic impacts of changes in practices

IRHS, UEH and CTIFL are involved in the CAP ZERO PHYTO project of the PPR «Cultiver et protéger autrement« which aims to combine different levers acting on plant immunity to control apple pests (2021-2027). The technical itinerary that we wish to prove in orchards in ENFIN! has not been integrated into the Cap Zero Phyto project. However, if we demonstrate that the ENFIN! strategy is effective in the orchard, we will integrate it into the PPR project as an additional lever.

Patent:
WO2021123698 - Bio Control method for combating the propagation of phytopathogenic fungi and oomycetes
PCT/FR2020/052580
Associated patents: FR3104905 and EP4075983

The present invention relates to a bio-control method for combating the propagation of phytopathogenic fungi or oomycetes on plants, comprising the application, to the soil and/or to the vegetative apparatus of plants that are infected or are capable of being infected by pathogenic endemic fungal or oomycete strains referred to as type A, of a composition comprising a mixture of at least two strains, referred to as type B, of the same species, said type B strains being non-pathogenic for said plant, sexually compatible with said pathogenic type A strains and characterized in that they exhibit: a) sexual reproduction, b) a sexual phase initiated in non-parasitic mode, c) reproduction according to a heterothallic mode, and d) the existence of special forms or divergent populations within the species, capable of producing, by crossing with the type A strains, descendants that are non-pathogenic or even sterile on said plant of interest, and characterized in that the mixture of non-pathogenic type B strains comprises strains of opposite mating-type signs.

Context and objectives of the solution. Apple tree cultivation represents a world market of 58 million tons and it is also the agricultural production that requires the most pesticides in France. Control of the apple scab disease caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis (Vi), represents 50% of pesticides sprayed in orchards, i.e. between 15 and 28 per year in dessert apples and between 3 and 8 in cider apples (€25 million for France). The forthcoming withdrawal of many fungicides from the market will lead apple growers to technical dead ends. ENFIN! aims to offer apple growers a technical breakthrough that will greatly reduce the use of fungicides on the basis of two patented inventions. The first invention aims to make the fungus non-virulent. It is based on the observation that the cross between the Vi lineage pathogenic on apples (POMI) and the Vi lineage pathogenic on pyracantha (PYR) generates non-virulent offspring on the apple tree. Since POMI must reproduces every winter, the idea is to cross it with PYR strains by spraying the orchard with PYR strains in the fall, which will lead to the production of non-virulent hybrids. Concerning the second invention, we have discovered that the application of PYR strains in the spring protected young apple leaves from subsequent scab attack in a way that needs to be elucidated. ENFIN! aims to validate and optimise the effectiveness and combination of these two strategies in orchards, to evaluate the risks and to study the acceptability and appropriation by apple growers of this technical breakthrough.

Approaches and methodology. Co-constructed with two national technical centres (the Centre Technique Interprofessionnel des Fruits et Légumes, and the Institut Français des Produits Cidricoles), ENFIN! will be validated during three seasons on four french sites in production orchards. The PYR strains will be produced on an industrial scale and two formulation technologies will be compared. Economists will look for the existence of both organisational and cognitive levers for its appropriation.

End user. The solution proposed to apple growers will be easy to use, it will consist of simple applications of PYR strains by spraying, without any specific investment. Recommendations for the development of awareness workshops will be proposed to apple growers as well as proposals for public actions. The transfer of the results of ENFIN! will take the form of a licence granted to a start-up to be created, or to a biocontrol industrialist.

Relevance and sustainability of the solution. ENFIN! represents a paradigm shift in terms of its innovative mode of action and the disruptive orchard management technique proposed to apple growers. It should make it possible to reduce the inoculum very significantly from one year to the next and sharply reduce the use of the many synthetic molecules in spring. The risks of emergence of pathogenic hybrids will be assessed by geneticists, and the acceptance by apple growers will be studied by economists.

Presentation of the consortium. Its strong points are its complementarity and coherence. The collaboration between the actors of fundamental and applied research, in close collaboration with the actors of the transfer of the National Technical Group Tavelure (advisers, technicians of chambers of agriculture and technical groups, experimenters, researchers...) will allow a rapid diffusion of the solution to apple growers. Different research disciplines are represented: pathologists, experimenters, geneticists, socio-economists. The involvement of industrialists in the production and formulation of spores will enable work on a semi-industrial scale towards a rapid deployment of the solution among apple growers

Project coordination

Bruno LE CAM (Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

IRHS Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences
CTIFL CTRE TECHNIQ INTERPROF FRUIT LEGUME
SADAPT Egizio Valceschini
UEHORTI Unité Expérimentale Horticole
IFPC Institut Français des Productions Cidricoles

Help of the ANR 449,990 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2021 - 36 Months

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