A ‘new generation’ of environmentally friendly pesticides is a step closer as researchers make an important breakthrough in pest control efficiency thanks to an insect-killing fungus.
Molecular virologists Dr Robert Coutts from the University of Hertfordshire and Dr Ioly Kotta-Loizou from Imperial College London are investigating the potential of Beauveria bassiana (B. bassiana) as an environmentally friendly pesticide, or bio-insecticide.
B. bassiana is an insect-pathogenic fungus found naturally in soil and on some plants. The fungus can kill a wide range of bugs by infecting them with its spores. These include notorious crop-killing and household pests such as whiteflies, aphids, grasshoppers and termites.
‘This discovery is potentially transformational for the sector and could elevate the profile of B. bassiana as one of the most environmentally friendly pest control agents for farmers today. This would safeguard ecosystems internationally, especially where the use of chemical insecticides is particularly prevalent,’ [said Dr Coutts.]
‘It is an extremely important breakthrough. By using viruses as enhancers we will create a new generation of improved mycoinsecticides, increasing the quality of global food production and reducing the environmental impact.’
Without [insecticides] it has been estimated that global food production could fall by as much as 35-40%, increasing the cost of food and threatening food security.
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