Local bugs for biocontrol
An international research network for the exploration of natural genetic variation of native natural enemies of agricultural pests has been developed. The aim is to improve the efficiency of biological control of those pests without using exotic enemies.
Source: Wageningen University
Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme, the €3.3 million BINGO Training Network (Breeding Invertebrates for Next Generation biocontrol), brings together researchers from nine European countries.
They aim to improve the production and performance of native natural enemies in biological control by selective breeding of natural enemies that are available and suitable for biological control. Ultimately, this will reduce the world’s dependence on chemical pesticides, resulting in a more safe and healthy food production.
Food security is continuously threatened by current and invasive pest species. To ensure food safety and protect ecosystem health EU regulations for the use of pesticides are getting stricter.
Biological control of agricultural pests by using natural enemies has great potential to deal with these two issues. Controlling novel exotic pests often involves importing non-native natural enemies, which could pose risks to local biodiversity. Optimising native biological control agents through selective and crop-system tailored breeding can reduce the dependence on imported natural enemies. While selective breeding of plants and livestock forms the foundation of agriculture for over centuries, it has yet hardly been applied to improve the efficiency of natural enemies.
BINGO research programme
The BINGO research programme will implement selective breeding and the use of genetic information in natural enemy production, while simultaneously bringing state-of-the-art genomic techniques to the field of biological control.
BINGO is funded by the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) scheme of the European Commission. It will train 13 young researchers at 12 partners from academia, non-profit organizations and industry located in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Greece and Portugal. Being the coordinator, Wageningen University takes a leading role in the BINGO Training Network.
More information here.