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Epidemiology and Biological Control of Insect Crop Pests

Project: Funded ProjectResearch

1/10/12 → …

This Fellowship focuses on developing strategies for the biological control of two important crop pests: African Armyworm, AAW (Spodoptera exempta) – a devastating lepidopteran pest in eastern Africa – and the Australian Plague Locust, APL (Chortoicetes terminifera) – the most important orthopteran pest in Australia. The AAW project has been in development for 10-15 years. We are now at a stage where we have developed a successful biopesticide (called SpexNPV – a baculovirus) and have recently built a state-of-the-art biopesticide facility in Tanzania, which will soon be producing large amounts of this cheap and environmentally-safe alternatives to toxic chemical pesticides. During this Fellowship, I will develop a long-term, large-scale strategy for the deployment of SpexNPV throughout Africa; to develop novel tools for SpexNPV dissemination; and to develop a forecasting tool to enable us to better target the deployment of SpexNPV where it is needed most. In so doing, it will help protect the staple food crops of the resource poor in eastern Africa and play a small part in addressing the global food security crisis. The success of the AAW biopesticide project has largely been through combining standard biopesticide development techniques with a thorough understanding of the epidemiology of the pathogen in the wild. This approach will form the template for exploring the potential for a novel biopesticide against the Australian Plague Locust (APL). During the Fellowship I will collaborate with Prof Stephen Simpson to develop a complementary programme for an APL biopesticide strategy, based on lessons learned from the AAW-SpexNPV programme.

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