Develompent of a broad acting microbial agent to combat fungal and bacterial plant pathogens
Project start: 01.11.2018
Project end: 31.10.2021
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture
The project mikroPraep represents a joint network of two research institutes, a biotechnological company and an associated university partner. The overall goal is the development of a marketable plant protection agent based on a strain of the bacterium Lysobacter enzymogenes. Ideally, the product provides broad action against several fungal and bacterial diseases on diverse crop plants.
In a first step, antifungal and antibacterial activity will be investigated in the lab as well as in greenhouse trials. Here, efficacy of living bacterial cells and cell- free fermenter cultures will be tested individually. In that way it can be determined to which extent fungicidal and antibacterial effects are based on whole living cells or on bacterial metabolites. Additionally a detailed characterisation of the bacterial metabolites will be carried out, an important step regarding high product efficacy and safety. In subsequent steps different formulations will be produced and tested regarding aspects such as storage stability, applicability and biological activity. These parts of the project will be mainly investigated in field trials on different crops.
How do essential factors of climate change affect the interactions between pests and their host plants? Implications for future pest control in pomicultire and viticulture (KlimaKom)
Project start: 15.08.2018
Project end: 14.10.2021
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture
Will mating disruption be an effective method to control the European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana) in the future or will it be hindered by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations? L. botrana, the major pest insect in vineyards, is currently well-controlled in Germany, resulting in a massive decrease of applied insecticides. Yet, it is unclear if this success will persist in a changing climate.
Male European grapevine moths find females in the vineyard by following the trace of sex pheromones they emit. In order to prevent successful location of females, artificial pheromones are dispensed all over the vineyard, concealing the real traces (mating disruption method) and hence reducing the number of mating events. Elevated CO2 concentrations can affect insect physiology. We therefore study if (1) the composition of female sex pheromones and/or (2) the perception of these pheromones by males as well as their behavior changes under future CO2 concentrations.
“KlimaKom” is a joint research project of the Applied Chemical Ecology lab at the Julius Kühn Institute and the Department of Crop Protection at the HGU, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Using the vineyard Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) facility in Geisenheim as well as the wind tunnels and gas chromatography-electroantennography equipment in Dossenheim, we are combining field and laboratory experiments. Additionally, we are studying the impact of elevated atmospheric ozone concentrations.
"Omic" approaches to understand grapevine and grape berry moth interactions in a future climate
Project start: 01.03.2018
Project end: 28.02.2021
Sponsor: Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts
The aim of this project is to assess the effects of abiotic stressors (in particular increased atmospheric CO2 concentration) on the interactions between grapevines and the two grape berry moth species (Lobesia botrana and Eupoecilia ambiguella). For this purpose, experiments will be carried under controlled conditions in greenhouse chambers as well as in the Geisenheim VineyardFACE facility. Parameters of development of both moth species under different CO2 concentrations are recorded, as well as changes in the expression pattern of relevant genes during the larval development on grapevines in the field under elevated and ambient CO2 concentration. For this purpose, investigations of the larval transcriptome will be carried out by RNAseq.
Development of an On-Site Detection Method for Phytoplasmas in Grapevine and Fruit Trees (PhytoDiag)
Project start: 10.07.2017
Project end: 31.03.2019
Sponsor: Development agency for agribusiness
Phytoplasmas (Candidatus Phytoplasma) are cell wall-less plant-pathogenic bacteria which can colonize the phloem of more than 700 plant species including many economically important crops. They cause a wide range of symptoms that vary depending on the phytoplasma strain, their host plant, and environmental factors, and usually include yellowing of leaves, proliferation of shoots and stunting. In grapevine (Vitis vinifera) phytoplasmas cause diseases referred to as grapevine yellows. In other fruit trees like apple (Malus domestica) they cause apple proliferation and in pear (Pyrus) they lead to pear decline. Phytoplasmas are spread by phloem-feeding insect vectors, grafting, or vegetative propagation of infected plants. Control strategies for phytoplasmas currently rely only on preventing their spread, as there are no effective chemical plant protection products against phytoplasmas. In addition, phytoplasma diseases have long incubation periods of up to several months before symptoms can be observed. Therefore, this project aims to develop a fast and reliable molecular detection method for phytoplasmas based on LAMP and TaqMan assays, respectively, to be used in the production of vegetatively propagated crops like grapevine, apple, or pear.
Endophytic establishment of the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana in grapevine as a sustainable strategy in crop protection
Project start: 01.03.2012
Project end: 31.12.2015
Sponsor: German Federal Environmental Foundation
Fungal entomopathogens are important antagonists of arthropod pests and have attracted increased attention as biocontrol agents in pest management programs. Some entomopathogenic fungi can endophytically colonize an array of plant species, providing systemic protection against damage by various insect pests or triggering induced systemic resistance mechanisms against plant pathogens.
In the present study, greenhouse experiments were conducted to verify endophytic establishment of Beauveria bassiana in grapevine plants Vitis vinifera. Therefore, two commercialized B. bassiana strains (ATCC 74040 and GHA) were applied on potted grapevine plants. The antagonistic activity of endophytic B. bassiana against putative target pest insects like the vine mealybug Planococcus ficus was assessed using surface sterilized leaves for a bioassay. Possible effects of endophytic B. bassiana on the feeding preference of black vine weevil Otiorhynchus sulcatus choosing between control and inoculated plants were examined through choice assays. Furthermore, the protective potential against grapevine downy mildew Plasmopara viticola was investigated in greenhouse experiments.
Endophytic survival of B. bassiana inside leaf tissues was evident at least 28 days after inoculation. A significant effect of endophytic B. bassiana on growth and on mortality of P. ficus one week after the initial settlement of the vine mealybugs was evident. Adult O. sulcatus chose significantly more often control plants as a host plant compared to grapevine plants with endophytic B. bassiana. A significant effect on the disease severity of downy mildew on potted grapevine leaves could be observed if plants were treated with B. bassiana 3 and 7 days before an inoculation with P. viticola.
Endophytic establishment of B. bassiana in grapevine plants therefore represents an alternative and sustainable plant protection strategy, with the potential of reducing pesticide applications in viticulture.