How plant sensors detect pathogens

(John Innes Centre) – In the mid-20th century, an American scientist named Harold Henry Flor helped explain how certain varieties of plants can fight off some plant killers (pathogens), but not others, with a model called the “gene-for-gene” hypothesis. Seventy years later, an international team of scientists describes precisely how a plant senses a pathogen, bringing an unprecedented level of detail to Flor’s model. “We know that plants have sensors to detect pathogens but we knew little about how they work,” says Professor Banfield from the John Innes Centre (UK). In a study published in eLife, the team led...

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Research shows biopesticides expanding rapidly

Driven in part by societal concerns and in part by regulations, the bio-pesticides market, once a domain of a niche specialty for organic fruit, greenhouse, and environmentally sensitive homeowner uses, is emerging to a much broader scope, according to AgProfessional.com. In 2014, the market grew rapidly, posting double-digit growth, according to the recently published Global Biologicals: An Overview of Natural and Microbial Pesticides report by global market research and consulting firm, Kline. The company uses a wide definition of biologicals in compiling its totals. At $1.6 billion, the biological segment of the market is still less than 5 percent...

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RNA insecticide could target specific pests

(CornellChronicle) – A novel insecticide targets a specific gene in a pest, killing only that bug species on crops and avoiding collateral damage to beneficial insects caused by today’s pesticides. Though the technology is still in its infancy, a Cornell study published online in Pest Management Science describes how the RNA-based insecticide can be effective for at least 28 days when sprayed on a leaf, a finding that dispels previous concerns that the genetic material would quickly degrade in rain and sunlight. The proof-of-principle study aimed to answer whether an RNA-insecticide spray would be stable enough to use in...

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Companies harness microbes to give crops a boost

(npr) – What if farmers, instead of picking up some agricultural chemicals at their local dealer, picked up a load of agricultural microbes instead? It’s something to contemplate, because some big names in the pesticide business — like Bayer and Monsanto — are putting money behind attempts to turn soil microbes into tools that farmers can use to give their crops a boost, according to National Public Radio’s Dan Charles. It’s a symptom of the soaring interest in the ways microbes affect all of life. In our bodies, they help fight off disease. In the soil, they help deliver...

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Insect mating behavior has lessons for drones

(Physl.org) – Male moths locate females by navigating along the latter’s pheromone (odor) plume, often flying hundreds of meters to do so. Two strategies are involved to accomplish this: males must find the outer envelope of the pheromone plume, and then head upwind. Can understanding such insect behavior be useful for robotics research? Yes, according to two entomologists whose research using computer simulations shows that such insect behavior has implications for airborne robots (drones) that ply the sky searching for signature odors. The entomologists modeled plumes’ dispersal and insects’ flight strategies. Their model was based in part on the observed behavior of the gypsy moth in forests and in experiments in wind tunnels. The use of computer simulations allowed testing of many conditions that could not be observed directly in the field. The simulations suggest that optimal strategies for robotic vehicles – airborne or ground-based – programmed to contact an odor plume need not involve the detection of wind flow in setting a foraging path. “Our simulations shows that random walks – heading randomly with respect to wind and changing direction periodically – create the most efficient paths for the initial discovery of the plume and consequently the likelihood of the moth locating its source,” said Ring Cardé, a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Riverside, whose lab led the research. “Such strategies are most apt...

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EPA regulator sees bright future for biopesticides

WASHINGTON (AgLineNews) – The Environmental Protection Agency has wrapped up its review of the world’s most widely used herbicide and plans to release a much-anticipated preliminary risk assessment no later than July, the regulator’s chief pesticide regulator told Reuters. At the same time, the EPA is encouraging development of biologicals because they “have very favorable human health and environmental profiles,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.” He said they are likely to overtake synthetic chemicals in agriculture at some point if their use continues what he called “dramatic” growth. “We’re pretty bullish about them,” said Jones. “We go out of our way… to express our enthusiasm for biologicals.” The EPA is generally approving biologicals in under a year compared to two to three years for synthetic chemical pesticides, Jones said. The EPA has approved more than 430 biological active ingredients for use in pesticides and use in U.S. agriculture climbed to 4.1 million pounds in 2012, up from 900,000 pounds in 2000, Jones said. Meanwhile, the EPA review of the health and environmental impacts of glyphosate comes at a time of intense debate over the safety of the chemical, and after the World Health Organization’s cancer research unit declared in March that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Jones told Reuters that the EPA’s review of the health and environmental...

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Remote sensor system aids farmers with pest control

Paired with wireless sensors and cameras, aerosol pheromone pesticides have entered a new era of effectiveness and affordability. There’s definitely something in the air at John Freese’s cherry, apple and pear orchards in Central Washington. And that something is a cloud of pheromones—one that means fewer pesky moths snacking their way through his fields. Continue...

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It may pay to give mating disruption of codling moth another look

Some growers consider mating disruption more expensive than their conventional insecticide programs, but new formulations have lowered the cost of this technology without reducing effectiveness, reports Joe Grant, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor for San Joaquin County, Calif. Working with manufacturers of the aerosol dispensers, Grant and his colleagues conducted trials to assess the efficacy of lower pheromone rates, according to a recent article in Western Farm Press. Tap here to read the full...

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California Hosts First-Ever Global Biocontrol Federation Meeting

FRESNO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Aligning the biocontrol industry on a global scale was the goal of the first-ever meeting of the International Biocontrol Federation in Fresno, Calif. March 2-3. The symposium drew 121 industry representatives from the US and around the world and was cast by a group of international biocontrol trade associations to share common vision, opportunities and challenges and to develop action plans to get its message onto the international stage. “We wanted the theme of our first meeting to be action,” said Rick Melnick, board chairman of the US-based Biological Industry Alliance and Global Brand Manager for Valent BioSciences Corporation. “We wanted to leave this meeting having discussed all of the major issues put forth by our members. We can’t solve everything, but what we can do is prioritize and act in those areas where we can make the most impact.” The biocontrol industry, which develops, manufactures and distributes biological products for pest control, public health, forestry and crop productivity, promotes awareness on the usefulness of their technologies to growers and other consumers of biocontrols. The attending organizations also act as liaisons for several private, governmental and non-governmental groups. Eda Reinot, BPIA board vice-chairman and Director R&D Seed Solutions, Americas, Functional Crop Care, BASF, said that the benefits of the Federation extend into areas where limited resources can be optimized and expertise can be leveraged. “Combined as a...

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First International Biocontrol Industry Symposium

Presentations Common Objectives of the International Federation of Biocontrol/Biopesticde Associations Rick Melnick, BPIA Board Chairman Global Organic Industry and Regulatory Update Dr. Nate Lewis, Senior Crops and Livestock Specialist, Organic Trade Association Access & Benefit Sharing Regulations: Implications for the Biocontrol Industry Willem Ravensberg, President IBMA Johannette Klapwijk, IBMA-IBCA Steering Group Neonicotinoids: Implications for the Biocontrol Industry Iain Kelly, Ph.D.,Director Regulatory Policy and Issues Management Bayer CropScience Regulatory Harmonizaton: Issues, Challenges, and Opportunities Nina Wilson, Regulatory Scientist/ Regulatory Affairs; Gowan Co. BPIA Building Better Relationships with IGOs, NGOs: Developing a Unified Message from Industry Tim Martin, Executive Coach Gaining Traction for Biologicals with the World Health Organization Steve Krause, Global Business Manager, Valent Biosciences Corporation Collaborating Across the Supply Chain to Improve Product Sustainability Sarah E. Lewis, Ph.D, The Sustainability Consortium Harmonization: Integration of Biocontrols and Conventional Products at the Macro Level Dr. Warren Shafer, Executive Vice President, Global R&D and Regulatory Affairs, Valent BioSciences Corporation Biostimulants and Biocontrols: Defining the Differences Bob Ames, PhD, Agrobiology Consulting, LLC HARMONIZATION: Managing the Changing Profile of Association Membership Presenters: David Cary, Executive Director, IBMA; William C. Dunham, Board Member, BPIA; Managing Partner, Dunham Trimmer; Renee Ruiter, President ANBP North American Business Unit Director, Koppert Biological Sustems Managing the changing profile of association membership David Cary, IBMA, Executive...

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Fungus may save crops from disease

As scientists seek to make crops resilient against disease and the effects of climate change, they are turning to what may seem like an unlikely champion: fungi, according to a story written by ClimateWire. Click here to continue...

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Plants inspire insecticide candidates

(C&EN) — Insects do billions of dollars’ worth of damage to agricultural products annually, and they can also be the vectors of numerous diseases. A team of researchers led by Yeon Ho Je and Sang Woon Shin of Seoul National University, in South Korea, and Alexander S. Raikhel of the University of California, Riverside, have found five new insecticide candidates by examining the terpenes produced defensively by two plants: Lindera erythrocarpa, a common Asian shrub, and Solidago serotina, a pervasive North American perennial (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1424386112). Researchers developing insecticides avoid compounds that might hurt the environment or human health by focusing instead on disrupting insect-specific proteins. This team focused on the juvenile hormone (JH) receptor in mosquitoes. Agonists acting on this receptor already form the basis of several insecticides, but antagonists, which could prove more effective, have not yet been found. The team showed that two of the terpenes, including LE3B, are JH antagonists and can retard the maturation of mosquito larva...

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Kenyan biopesticides success spawns hope for UK growers

A Buckinghamshire farmer has set up a new company with the aim of bringing new biological technology to UK growers in the next five years. According to the UK publication Farmers Weekly, Antony Pearce, who farms just over 1,000ha of cropping near Aylesbury, highlights how biologicals have helped Kenyan farmers halve their fungicide use. Along with fellow farmers he has helped set up Real IPM UK, with the intention of getting registration for these pesticides in the EU and making them available to UK farmers. Click here to continue reading...

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Tapping plant microbiome to improve plant health

People are increasingly aware of the link between the trillions of microbes that live within our bodies and human health. Studies have found that a healthy population of bacteria, or a microbiome, in a person can prevent food allergies and even treat depression, according to a story in The Conversation. Just as in the human body, these types of tiny bugs can play an beneficial role in plant health. Growth-promoting bacteria or fungi can be added to plants or soil in a variety of ways – in seed coats, suspended in water and sprayed on plants or soil, or mixed into mulches that are added to the soil or placed around plant stems. Study of this microscopic world has been going on for decades but is now attracting more interest from researchers looking for environmentally benign methods to improve agriculture. Click here to continue reading...

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Scientists create pheromone trap to combat bedbug epidemic

Bedbugs are pesky insects, living in mattresses and coming out at night to bite at your exposed skin. Now, though, scientists may have just created a new technique to combat the global bedbug epidemic, according to Science World Report and other sources. The new method is a set of chemical attractants, or pheromones, that lure the bedbugs into traps and then keep them there-far away from you and your mattress. Currently, the researchers are working to develop the first effective and affordable bait and trap for detecting and monitoring bedbug infestations. In fact, it’s likely that this new bait could be commercially available as early as next year. “The biggest challenge in dealing with bedbugs is to detect the infestation at an early stage,” said Gerhard Gries, one of the researchers, in a news release. “This trap will helplandlords, tenants and pest-control professionals determine whether premises have a bedbug problem, so that they can treat it quickly. It will also be useful for monitoring the treatment’s effectiveness.” The new bait is based on a pheromone blend that attracted bedbugs in lab experiments, but not in bedbug-infested apartments. Realizing that some component must be missing, the researchers then worked on finding what that component might be. In the end, they finally discovered that histamine signals “safe shelter” to bedbugs and was one of the missing components. Delving a bit further,...

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Biological Pesticides Gaining Ground

As consumer demand for sustainably  farmed food increases, adoption of bio-pesticides is trending upward as well. According to the Bio-pesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA), this is one of several factors contributing to the bio-pesticide industry’s current growth rate of almost 16 percent. Continue...

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Biological Products Industry Alliance - Advancing Knowledge of Biopesticides and Biostimulants
Advancing Knowledge of Biopesticides and Biostimulants