Entomopathogenic nematodes update February 2017

Entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) are used in biocontrol products for the control of soil-born-pest insects. During the production of these nematodes, there are high losses. In the BIOCOMES project we therefore aim to develop a new large-scale downstream processing and we focus on the improvement of storage and formulation technologies for a more cost-effective production of entomopathogenic nematodes.

In our update of June 2015 we described the results of a new optimized standing operating procedure for a large scale processing of nematodes.

In the second half period of the BIOCOMES project we are working on the improvement of storage and formulation technologies. At the end of the project this must result in an improved shelf life and stable virulence of the entomopathogenic nematodes.

Improvement of storage

In 2015 and 2016 we worked on the improvement of the storage of the nematodes in liquid. A new water treatment system has resulted in the possibility of doubling the nematode density (=less investment costs into storage capacity). Additional washing steps and higher aeration reduced problems with debris in the nematode suspension.

Production of a genetically improved strain

We are also working on genetic improvement of entomopathogenic nematodes. The aim is to prolong the life-span and persistence of the nematodes, develop a nematode strain that is heat and desiccation tolerant and also highly virulent. We have screened a strain collection for these traits to know which strains we need to cross in order to obtain a commercial strain with improved beneficial characters. Currently we use modern genetic sequencing techniques to help us to understand the genetic background of these traits. At the end of the project we will have identified genetic markers which will correlate with the beneficial traits. These markers will help, in the future, to check whether crosses (hybrids) between better performing strains carry the genes of interest.

Longer storage time and better shelf life

In the last year of the BIOCOMES project we will be working on prolongation of the storage time of entomopathogenic nematodes in a liquid suspension and a formulation which will enable a longer shelf life. We will check for genetic differences and investigate whether these differences can be assigned to certain beneficial traits in order to produce genetic markers. Some strains with better performance will be tested in field trials.

See our earlier updates on entomopathogenic nematodes:

Read more about our activities on entomopathogenic nematodes

Picture: Bioreactors for liquid storage of nematodes at e-nema’s. BIOCOMES



Ralf-Udo Ehlers
Ralf-Udo Ehlers
Production and storage of nematodes