ENDURE researchers have developed a new approach for the fast and cost-effective development of biological control products. Called SelectBioControl, the approach encompasses all the successive steps crucial to the development, production, registration and marketing of such products.
The development of SelectBioControl was led by Jürgen Köhl, from Plant Research International (PRI), part of Wageningen University and Research Centre, working in cooperation with ENDURE colleagues from France's National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), Italy's National Research Council (CNR) and the biocontrol industry body, the International Biocontrol Manufacturers' Association (IBMA). ENDURE's researchers expect SelectBioControl to give a major boost to the biological control market.
The development of biological control products based on micro-organisms is a long and costly process. A great deal of public and private money has already been invested in the development of these products, with only a limited degree of success. Researchers believe SelectBioControl will increase the chances of developing an effective product and a successful market introduction.
“We start by testing bacteria and fungi for their effectiveness against pathogens as well as analysing the economically important production and marketing parameters. Only bacteria and fungi that have market potential are taken to the next stage and studied in more detail. SelectBioControl results in limited overall development costs, and allows us to better estimate the total costs and possible risks in advance,” said Jürgen Köhl.
Biological control market
The (partial) replacement of chemical control by biologicals is becoming increasingly interesting to the crop protection industry, especially as regulations on the use of chemical control become more stringent. The Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) applied by legislation and buyers in the food industry is also increasingly strict. Furthermore, there is the risk of plant pathogens developing resistance to chemical control products. These factors combine to make biological controls a useful and necessary part of growers’ crop protection programmes.
At approximately one billion US dollars, the market for biological control is relatively small. However, while the total turnover in agro-chemistry remains stable, the turnover of biological control is rising by 15% a year, with Europe and Asia leading the growth.
In light of these developments, SelectBioControl offers unique opportunities to the crop protection industry. PRI believes it can combine its expertise and work in cooperation with industry partners to translate the SelectBioControl approach into tailor-made and cost-effective product development for any application.
Biological and chemical pesticides
Biological control is based upon the natural enemies of harmful organisms, often bacteria or fungi. These natural enemies are multiplied by manufacturers and sold as ready-to-use control products. Growers can use biological control to replace to a greater or lesser degree their chemical control.
PRI says it is important that biological and chemical control are complementary and do not exclude each other. This is why SelectBioControl is focused on the development of biological control products that can also be used in combination with chemical products.
The SelectBioControl approach has recently been described in an article in the international scientific magazine Biological Control, entitled Stepwise screening of microorganisms for commercial use in biological control of plant-pathogenic fungi and bacteria. For more details about the article, click here.
For more information on this article, contact Nora de Rijk, of the Communication Department at the Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen UR. Telephone: 00 31 317 480 744 or contact ENDURE.
For more information on ENDURE's work on biological controls: