Ecophyto Maturation - Ecophyto Maturation

Optimized parasitoids and improved releases for new perspectives in biological control – Aphidius 2.0

Optimized parasitoids and improved releases for new perspectives in biological control

Improving biological control in strawberry greenhouse crops by developing innovative ways to rear and release biological control agents.

Solutions against aphids for strawberry growers

The project Aphidius 2.0 fits in the context of strawberry production under greenhouses. This production is confronted to aphids, major pests that threaten strawberry yields and quality. Aphids damage strawberry crops because of their exponential population growth and their production of honeydew favoring fungi development. These pests are controlled with insecticides and there is currently no effective alternative solution to control these insects in strawberry crops. There is a great willingness of strawberry growers to reduce their pesticide use. However, although widely experimented, biological control, especially with parasitoids, remains often inefficient. The objective of the present project is to propose an innovative way to rear and release parasitoids of aphids in strawberry greenhouses. The project builds on previous results from projects conducted in the Ecophyto context. These results identified factors limiting the efficiency of currently commercialized parasitoids, identified species and populations adapted to aphids in strawberry crops and evaluated the feasibility of the rearing of a new biological control agent. These initial results allowed to reach the level of maturity TRL4 (validation of the solution in laboratory conditions). The present project aims at reaching TRL6 (demonstration of the solution in real environment).

To develop innovative ways to rear parasitoids, the project will explore the effect of genetic variation within parasitoid populations and their original host species on the parasitism of aphids in strawberry crops. We will set up a method to maintain the performance of mass-reared parasitoids over time. Then, we will experiment new ways to control the pests at the start of infestation and all along the cropping season. The solution will be tested in real conditions, in strawberry greenhouses.

Main results will be:
- One one hand the development of effective parasitoid strains against strawberry aphids as well as knowledge regarding the method of rearing needed to maintain these strains (effect of the parasitoid genetic diversity, effect of the rearing hosts diversity).
-On the other hand the development of innovative methods of releasing the parasitoids in order to increase the efficiency of the produced strains (banker plants, augmentorium)

The new biological control solution will allow to substitute partially or completely one to three insecticide treatments that are currently usually done against aphids in strawberry crops. Contrary to biological control agents that already exist on the market, the new solution will be created especially for strawberry crops, allowing to adapt precisely to the constraints of these crops. The solution will be commercialized by a company supported by producer organizations, demonstrating the willingness of the strawberry sector to invest in sustainable means of plant protection. This will be in accordance with the societal demand of reduction of pesticide use in fruits and vegetables.

Non at the moment. Scientific articles will be published on the experiments conducted inside the WP1

Context and objective of the solution : The project Aphidius 2.0 fits in the context of strawberry production under greenhouses. This production is confronted to aphids, major pests that threaten strawberry yields and quality. Aphids damage strawberry crops because of their exponential population growth and their production of honeydew favoring fungi development. These pests are controlled with insecticides and there is currently no effective alternative solution to control these insects in strawberry crops. There is a great willingness of strawberry growers to reduce their pesticide use. However, although widely experimented, biological control, especially with parasitoids, remains often inefficient. The objective of the present project is to propose an innovative way to rear and release parasitoids of aphids in strawberry greenhouses. The project builds on previous results from projects conducted in the Ecophyto context. These results identified factors limiting the efficiency of currently commercialized parasitoids, identified species and populations adapted to aphids in strawberry crops and evaluated the feasibility of the rearing of a new biological control agent. These initial results allowed to reach the level of maturity TRL4 (validation of the solution in laboratory conditions). The present project aims at reaching TRL6 (demonstration of the solution in real environment).

Approach and methodology : To develop innovative ways to rear parasitoids, the project will explore the effect of genetic variation within parasitoid populations and their original host species on the parasitism of aphids in strawberry crops. We will set up a method to maintain the performance of mass-reared parasitoids over time. Then, we will experiment new ways to control the pests at the start of infestation and all along the cropping season. The solution will be tested in real conditions, in strawberry greenhouses.

Final users : Final users of the solution will be French strawberry growers. They will be fully involved in the development of the new solution as two main producer organizations are partners of the project. A fully-fledged work of this project will be the analysis of costs and logistics, in order to ensure the feasibility of the adoption of the new solution by growers.

Relevance and sustainability of the solution : The new biological control solution will allow to substitute partially or completely one to three insecticide treatments that are currently usually done against aphids in strawberry crops. Contrary to biological control agents that already exist on the market, the new solution will be created especially for strawberry crops, allowing to adapt precisely to the constraints of these crops. The solution will be commercialized by a company supported by producer organizations, demonstrating the willingness of the strawberry sector to invest in sustainable means of plant protection. This will be in accordance with the societal demand of reduction of pesticide use in fruits and vegetables.

Consortium presentation : The project will be coordinated by Frais’Nat, a young company dedicated to research & development in biological control for strawberry crops. It will involve the UMR IGEPP as academic partner to benefit from its competences in ecology and evolution of parasitoids as well as in agroecology. The project will also involve two producer organizations, C.M.O and SCAAFEL, to allow a dissemination of the solution to final users.

Project coordination

Romain Ulmer (Frais'Nat)

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

IGEPP Institut de Génétique Environnement et Protection des Plantes
SCAAFEL Société Coopérative Agricole Aiguillonaise de Fruits et Légumes
C.M.O Coopérative Maraîchère de l'Ouest
Frais'Nat

Help of the ANR 323,983 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2022 - 36 Months

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