Funding organisation & Project no.: FFG-ACIB, 24.041
PI: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Berg; Project leader: Dr. Christin Zachow
Abstract: Microbes provide immeasurable benefits for plant development and health, yet the mechanisms of advantageous plant-microbe interactions are barely understood. Current approaches in exploiting bacteria and fungi for agricultural purposes face a narrow application spectrum and inconsistent effects. As a result, commercially available products are still underrepresented. Despite the fast-growing market potential additional hurdles for the commercialization of microbial products include difficulties with fermentation, formulation and registration By employing high throughput sequencing techniques, ‘omics’-technologies, and microscopic approaches, a better understanding of plant microbiome function on both community and single strain level is expected. These advances will result in concepts for a new generation of plant protection products. New generation products, specifically stress protection agents (SPAs) will enhance plant tolerance against abiotic and biotic stresses by newly discovered mechanisms. Moreover, plant-associated microorganisms belong to the greatest chemists on Earth and represent a rich source for novel enzymes and bioactive compounds that can be used for plant protection in an isolated and biotechnologically produced form. ‘Omic’-technologies allow exploiting the potential of currently uncovered metabolites.
Partners: KWS SAAT SE; bio-ferm Biotechnologische Entwicklung und Produktion GmbH; Biotenzz Gesellschaft für Biotechnologie mbH; ABiTEP Gmb; Biosolbi Inter.
Publications/Highlights: Berg et al. Agronomy 2013; Zachow et al. Agronomy 2013
Funding organisation, Project no.: EU, FP7-KBBE-2013-7-single-stage (BIOCOMES; No. 612713)
Project leader: Gabriele Berg; Coworkers: Daria Rybakova, Maria Schmuck
Abstract: The objective of BIOCOMES is to develop 11 new biological control agents (BCAs) for key markets in European agriculture and forestry. BCAs were identified through market analysis by six manufactures of biological control products. BCAs will primarily be for use in open field crops of vegetables (3), of which 2 are also for use in protected crops, arable crops (3), fruit crops (3), and three different types of forests (2). Primary targeted pests are: gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), pine weevil (Hylobius abietis), tomato pinworm (Tuta absoluta), white flies, aphids of fruit tree crops and Mamestra brassicae. Primary targeted pathogens are: damping-off diseases in forest nurseries, soilborne pathogens of oilseed rape and cereals, brown rot (Monilinia spp.) of stone fruit, and powdery mildew of cereals (Blumeria graminis). The economic sustainability during the entire development process will be assessed by the responsible industrial partners. The environmental sustainability will be quantified for each BCA by means of the Sustainable Process Index method. The entire developmental process for each of the 11 BCA products is guided by a consultancy partner specialized and leading in (bio) pesticide registration including risk assessments for European (bio) pesticide industries. In vitro production of entomopathogenic viruses as new innovative technique like will be developed aimed at a breakthrough in economic production. Downstream-technology and shelf life for entomopathogenic nematodes will be improved. BIOCOMES will communicate project results with all stakeholders with special attention to European IPM networks throughout the whole project duration. BIOCOMES combines the expertise of 10 industrial SME partners, 3 larger industrial partners and 14 research partners with 38% of the requested EU contribution supporting SMEs. All 11 BCA solutions will be novel IPM tools and new alternatives to replace major pesticide applications in European agriculture and forestry.
Objectives of our work package (TUG; WP5): The overall objective of WP5 is to develop a bacterial seed treatment for oilseed rape and Brassica vegetables with ethe focus on Verticillium wilt in oilseed rape based on the combined use of selected strains of Serratia plymuthica HRO-C48 and Paenibacillus polymyxa.
Partners in WP5: E-nema GMBH (Germany), Agro Plantarum (Sweden), DLO (Netherlands)
Publications/Highlights: Rybakova D, Schmuck M, Wetzlinger U, Varo Suarez A, Murgu O, Müller H, Berg G (2015). Plant and soil:1-15; Rybakova D, Wetzlinger U, Müller H, Berg G (2015). Genome announcements, 3(2) e00052-15; Rybakova D, Cernava T, Köberl M, Liebminger S, Etemadi M, Berg G (2015). Plant and soil: 1-16.
Funding organisation, Project no.: Federal Ministry of Finance (MoF) of the Republic of Austria, Austrian Development Agency (ADA)
Project leader: Gabriele Berg; Coworker: Julian Taffner
Abstract: In Uganda 80% of the population rely on agriculture. Especially smallholder farmers are bound to their agricultural productivity. Therefore crop failure due to pests and diseases is a threat to their existence. This dependency encourages greater reliance on synthetic chemical pesticides by smallholders, with a catastrophic effect on human health and the environment. This project focusses on the development of healthy seedling systems in Uganda and Ethiopia to enhance the crop yields and quality. Our research on biologically-based pest damage reduction will lead to a sustainable increase in food production and agricultural productivity. Consequently this sustainable pest-control will improve soil, nutrient and water use efficiency due to healthier root systems and thereby reduce wastage of inputs and optimising resource use. Our approach is to combine biological pest control, identified resistance and good agricultural practice of healthy seedling usage. Reduced pest and disease levels will subsequently reduce pesticide use and by that maintain the biodiversity. One of the most important issues resulting in crop failure is caused by root knot nematodes (RKN). These are especially affecting tomato plants, causing yield losses of up to 20%. As few farmers are aware of them, non-effective pesticide use is high and transmission through contaminated seedlings can happen. Therefore we focus on the identification of the RKN species accompanying eased host invasion by fungi and an effective biologically-based reduction of the pathogens, by isolating and identifying antagonistic bacteria, producing nematicidal and fungicidal volatile organic compounds (VOC). Another approach to reach a higher yield of productivity and quality of smallholders is to focus on the cultivation of resistant and robust plants. Leafy greens are known for their nutrient and vitamin richness and their specific medicinal properties. Nowadays they are capturing growing attention and are more and more used in rural cuisine and medicine.
Partners: CGIAR center: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); Makerere University Uganda; University of Addis Ababa Ethiopia; VEDCO; Real IPM
Funding organization, Project no.: BMLFUW, 101111
Project leader: Gabriele Berg; Coworker: Henry Müller
Abstract: The aim of this project is to demonstrate the efficacy of 4 antagonistic organisms in controlling Western Cornrootworm (WCR) larvae or protecting corn roots. This should enable farmers to use 4 different biological methods and thereby decreasing dependency to only one active ingredient (Cypermethrin) in WCR control. Furthermore it is aimed to stimulate self-regulation of WCR by yearly prophylactic application of small doses of these antagonistic organisms to the field. For Dianem (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) which is already registered in Austria the efficacy of practical applications by farmers shall be correlated with agronomical and environmental factors in order to find out what promotes successful application and what prevents it. For GranMet (Metarhizium brunneum) field trials shall demonstrate the efficacy which has been shown in the laboratory very clearly. Concerning Lecanicillium lecanii the mode of action in the soil has to be studied in detail as Diabrotica eggs were infected frequently by these fungi in the laboratory. Outdoor microplot trials will give information of application details for further field trials. Concerning SPA69 (Stenotrophomonas rhizophila) a protecting agent for corn roots will be examined in field trials. Overall the application of combinations of these organisms under investigation will be performed in the last year. The results are dependent on the progress of these experiments. In best case it will enable the registration of new plant protection products or improvement of advice on existing products. The overall aim would be the stimulation of self-regulation of WCR by yearly application of smaller doses of these naturally occurring antagonistic organisms.
Partner: AGES – Österreichische Agentur für Gesundheit und Ernährungssicherheit GmbH
Main Project Leader
Univ.-Prof Dr.rer.nat. Gabriele Berg
Next-Generation Bio-Products: Development and Optimization
Dr.rer.nat. Christin Zachow
Biological control manufacturers in Europe develop novel biological control products to support the implementation of Integrated Pest Management in agriculture and forestry (BIOCOMES)
Dr.rer.nat. Daria Rybakova
Boosting plant-Endophyte STability, compatibility and Performance Across ScaleS (BestPass)
Univ.-Prof Dr.rer.nat. Gabriele Berg
Healthy vegetables for Africa
Univ.-Prof Dr.rer.nat. Gabriele Berg
DIACONT - Alternative methods of protection of maize from Western Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera)
Dr.rer.nat. Henry Müller