Xinhuanet

Predatory mites' new mission: carrying pathogens to infect and kill pest insects

2016-12-02 10:06:47

By Wu Yilong

BEIJING, Dec. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Predatory mites usually prey on pest mites and do little about pest insects, especially adult ones.

However, mass-bred predatory mites, while moving around to catch pest mites, are now turned into the carrier of pathogens which infect and destroy pest insects, hence reducing the use of pesticides.

“It’s like ‘killing two birds with one stone’,” said Zhang Yanxuan, one of the top Chinese researchers on bio-control through natural enemies. “We’ve used the new multi-target bio-control method on more than 1.2 million hectares of over 20 crops since 2013.”

Zhang and her team officially concluded a 3-year-long project dealing with the research and application of predatory mites as the pathogen carrier to control pests last Monday.

Professor of the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhang introduced a foreign predatory mite into China in mid-1990s and soon became the first Chinese scientist ever succeeding in the commercialization of predatory mites.

Pest mites destroy all kinds of crops worldwide, resulting in the overuse of pesticides. Zhang’s mass-produced predatory mites, Neoseiulus cucumeris and Amblyseius swirskii, have proved efficient in eating such mites as spider mites and rust mites in the field and greenhouse.

But there exist other pests, which make the use of pesticides unavoidable and hamper the further application of bio-control.

In 2012, Zhang put forward a brand-new solution: establishing a predator-mediated pathogen disseminating system for multi-target control, arousing great interest among the fellow scientists in the world. In 2013, she and her team started the research project.

They first experimented with predatory mites carrying the spores of Beauveria bassiana, and proved the spore-dusted mites are able to deliver the lethal pathogen to Diaphorina citri, known for causing the devastating disease of huanglongbing on citrus around the world.

Since 2013, they have screened out 16 strains of fungal pathogen, which, dusted around fluffy predatory mites, can infect and kill different pest insects but cause little harm to the vector mites and no harm to the human beings, according to Zhang.

“We first conducted tests in the lab and then in the field,” said Zhang. “Our predatory mites carrying insect pathogens sell well in the market.”

In Beiliao village of Zhangping, a mountainous city in southeast China’s Fujian Province, the cooperative of shuixian tea promises to compensate 10 times for any amount of tea found with excessive residues of pesticides.

“All of our members have used predatory mites carrying pathogens for years,” said the cooperative director Zhang Lianying. “We have no need of using pesticides, so where is the residue in our tea?”

To further facilitate the field use, Zhang invented a patent container for releasing predatory mites dusted with pathogens, and they even managed to use drones on the vast cotton fields in Xinjiang.

Zhang’s new bio-control technique has been applied in 274 cities and counties of more than 20 provinces in China.

“Our technology can reduce the use of pesticides by 40 to 50 percent,” said Zhang. “We hope to accelerate its application both at home and abroad.”

 
Predatory mites' new mission: carrying pathogens to infect and kill pest insects
                 | 2016-12-02 10:06:47 | Editor: ZD

By Wu Yilong

BEIJING, Dec. 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Predatory mites usually prey on pest mites and do little about pest insects, especially adult ones.

However, mass-bred predatory mites, while moving around to catch pest mites, are now turned into the carrier of pathogens which infect and destroy pest insects, hence reducing the use of pesticides.

“It’s like ‘killing two birds with one stone’,” said Zhang Yanxuan, one of the top Chinese researchers on bio-control through natural enemies. “We’ve used the new multi-target bio-control method on more than 1.2 million hectares of over 20 crops since 2013.”

Zhang and her team officially concluded a 3-year-long project dealing with the research and application of predatory mites as the pathogen carrier to control pests last Monday.

Professor of the Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Zhang introduced a foreign predatory mite into China in mid-1990s and soon became the first Chinese scientist ever succeeding in the commercialization of predatory mites.

Pest mites destroy all kinds of crops worldwide, resulting in the overuse of pesticides. Zhang’s mass-produced predatory mites, Neoseiulus cucumeris and Amblyseius swirskii, have proved efficient in eating such mites as spider mites and rust mites in the field and greenhouse.

But there exist other pests, which make the use of pesticides unavoidable and hamper the further application of bio-control.

In 2012, Zhang put forward a brand-new solution: establishing a predator-mediated pathogen disseminating system for multi-target control, arousing great interest among the fellow scientists in the world. In 2013, she and her team started the research project.

They first experimented with predatory mites carrying the spores of Beauveria bassiana, and proved the spore-dusted mites are able to deliver the lethal pathogen to Diaphorina citri, known for causing the devastating disease of huanglongbing on citrus around the world.

Since 2013, they have screened out 16 strains of fungal pathogen, which, dusted around fluffy predatory mites, can infect and kill different pest insects but cause little harm to the vector mites and no harm to the human beings, according to Zhang.

“We first conducted tests in the lab and then in the field,” said Zhang. “Our predatory mites carrying insect pathogens sell well in the market.”

In Beiliao village of Zhangping, a mountainous city in southeast China’s Fujian Province, the cooperative of shuixian tea promises to compensate 10 times for any amount of tea found with excessive residues of pesticides.

“All of our members have used predatory mites carrying pathogens for years,” said the cooperative director Zhang Lianying. “We have no need of using pesticides, so where is the residue in our tea?”

To further facilitate the field use, Zhang invented a patent container for releasing predatory mites dusted with pathogens, and they even managed to use drones on the vast cotton fields in Xinjiang.

Zhang’s new bio-control technique has been applied in 274 cities and counties of more than 20 provinces in China.

“Our technology can reduce the use of pesticides by 40 to 50 percent,” said Zhang. “We hope to accelerate its application both at home and abroad.”

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