Seminar of the Department of Microbiology

Multi-purpose application of Metarhizium brunneum against the pest sugar beet weevil (Asproparthenis punctiventris)

Maria Zottele, PhD student - University of Innsbruck

13.01.2022, 11:00 - Join online



For more than 100 years, entomopathogenic fungi, natural enemies of arthropods, have been investigated and developed for their economic applicability. So far, due to procedural inadequacies, they could only be used to limited extent. Because of advances in formulation technology and new application strategies, the commercial application of bioinsecticides is gaining importance again. The sugar beet weevil (Asproparthenis punctiventris) prefers warm, dry areas. It occurs in masses about every ten years, but this could shift due to changing climatic conditions.

The BIPESCO Team Innsbruck and AGRANA Research & Innovation Center GmbH (ARIC) Tulln are investigating an environmentally friendly and sustainable control of the sugar beet weevil with this fungus. As such, a large-scale trial has been put in motion in designated agricultural fields in Lower Austria. The concept relies on the preventive use of the insecticidal fungus M. brunneum against all developmental stages of the beetle in the soil as well as a spray application with the aim of directly infecting the adults. Trap grooves (treated with the fungus) were also tested and improved, these are drawn around the newly planted sugar beet fields as an initial barrier for the migrating beetles and infecting them with the fungus.

A fungal density of 5,000 M. brunneum CFU g^-1 dry wt soil (colony forming units per gram soil dry weight) and more could already be achieved after the first application of the fungal barley product GranMet-P (TM) in the soil, alone and/or in combination with the liquid formulation. The applied fungus was able to infect and kill the beetles in laboratory as well as field trials.

Further findings should now confirm the potential of Metarhizium and provide an effective, sustainable and low-cost alternative for controlling the sugar beet weevil pest

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