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Entomopathogenic nematodes

Entomopathogenic nematodes may infect and kill pest insects. They do so by a free-living infective juvenile, which actively searches for soil-borne insect pests. In nature entomopathogenic fungi, nematodes, bacteria and viruses are found everywhere. They are insect-specific, safe and contribute to the natural regulation of many populations of pest insects.

Production and storage of nematodes

BIOCOMES focuses on a more cost-effective production of entomopathogenic nematodes. Currently high losses of infective juveniles occur during harvest from liquid culture and storage. Therefore, new large-scale downstream processing will be developed. Furthermore, storage and formulation technologies will be improved aiming at an improved shelf life and stable virulence of these biological control agents.

Genetic improvement

Besides technical improvements of the downstream and storage process, shelf life of the nematodes will be also improved by genetic selection approaches. These approaches may also lead to an improved persistence of these beneficial organisms in the soil. Furthermore, a first attempt will be set up to improve the virulence of  an entomopathogenic nematode against an important insect pest, the western corn root borer. All these efforst are aimed at the reduction of production costs and the  development of nematode-based products for large scale open-field markets in agriculture and forestry at competitive costs compared to chemical compounds.

Heterorhabditis bacteriophora nematode. Picture: E-nema GmbH.

Ralf-Udo Ehlers
Ralf-Udo Ehlers
Production and storage of nematodes
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Current stage of the Biological Control Agent

75%

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