Seminar by Hermann Strasser

Testing integrated pest management strategies for western corn root worm control under real farm conditions – an Austrian perspective

by Hermann Strasser, University of Innsbruck, Institute of Microbiology, Technikerstrasse 25, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria

The western corn rootworm (WCR), Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is one of the most serious pests of crops worldwide and can currently be found in 20 European countries, causing considerable economic losses in these countries. In Austria D. v. virgifera was detected for the first time in 2002 near the Slovakian border from where it has subsequently spread south- and westward. Several different natural enemies of the western corn rootworm have been reported in the New World, e.g. fungi, bacteria, protista, viruses, nematodes, arthropod predators and parasitoids, all with different impact on WCR populations. However, many of these antagonists have been left behind in the area of origin, resulting in a lack of occurrence in most parts of Europe.

Currently, different management practices are aiming at the control of D. virgifera virgifera: (i) crop rotation, (ii) application of insecticides as seed, soil and foliar treatments, (iii) the use of rootworm-resistant transgenic maize hybrids producing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins, (iv) utilization of biological control agents. The former three strategies have shown to exhibit several limitations, either due to adaptation of WCR population, e.g. rotation-resistance, insecticide resistance and resistance to Bt proteins. Furthermore, the ban of several insecticides - e.g. the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoids in Austria from 2013 - due to environmental and human health risk and possible negative impact on no-target organisms, hamper the application of chemical insecticides.

The use of biological control agents (BCAs) for the protection of plants from WCR feeding have already revealed promising results. Fully in line with IPM, the main goals of our real farm field trials – located in Styria/Austria - are to generate efficacy data of the entomopathogenic fungal strain Metarhizium anisopliae BIPESCO 5 (EPF) and to evaluate possible synergistic effects between EPF and efficacy enhancing agents (EEAs). The field trials will be complemented by semi-field trials and lab assays by the Innsbruck Team and by the partner institutes in the framework of the EU funded INBIOSOIL project (Grant Agreement No. 282767).

In this seminar talk the experimental set up of an ongoing field studies - under real farm conditions - is presented and first results reported.

This presentation is supported by University Copenhagen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.