Combining Natural Plant Extracts with Bacteria to Control Tomato Pests

Greg Howard
25th April, 2024

Combining Natural Plant Extracts with Bacteria to Control Tomato Pests

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In a study by icipe, neem extract killed 93.79% of tomato pinworm larvae in just over a day
  • Combining neem extract with Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria increased larval deaths to 99%
  • This combination could lead to safer, more sustainable pest control in agriculture
Tomatoes are not just a staple food enjoyed around the world; they are also a rich source of nutrients and phytochemicals with significant health benefits[2]. However, tomato production faces a persistent threat from a pest known as Phthorimaea absoluta, also known as the tomato pinworm, which can devastate crops and lead to significant economic losses. Traditional methods of controlling this pest have relied heavily on synthetic pesticides, which pose health risks to humans, animals, and the environment. In light of these concerns, researchers at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) have conducted a study[1] aimed at finding more sustainable and eco-friendly pest management solutions. The study focused on evaluating the effectiveness of various biopesticides, including ten different isolates of Bacillus thuringiensis (a bacteria known for its insecticidal properties), and extracts from neem, garlic, and fenugreek plants. The researchers also investigated how combining the most potent plant extracts with Bacillus thuringiensis isolates could enhance their effectiveness against the tomato pinworm. The results were promising. Neem extract alone caused an impressive 93.79 ± 3.12% mortality rate in the larvae of the tomato pinworm, with an LT50 value of 1.21 ± 0.24 days, indicating that half the larvae were eliminated in just over a day. Bacillus thuringiensis isolate HD263 also performed well, inducing a 91.3 ± 3.68% mortality rate with an LT50 of 2.63 ± 0.11 days. In comparison, other treatments like Bacillus thuringiensis isolate 43 and fenugreek extract resulted in less than 50% mortality. A significant finding of the study was that when Bacillus thuringiensis isolate HD263 was combined with neem extract, larval mortality increased to 99 ± 1.04%. This suggests that a synergistic effect occurs when certain biopesticides are used together, enhancing their pest control capabilities. In addition to evaluating mortality rates, the researchers examined the impact of these treatments on the gut microbial diversity of the tomato pinworm. The analysis revealed that bacteria such as Klebsiella, Escherichia, and Enterobacter were the most abundant in the gut, with Klebsiella being the predominant genus. The treatments appeared to cause a shift in the abundance of these bacterial genera, which could have implications for the overall health and susceptibility of the pest to biopesticides. Previous studies have highlighted the rapid spread of the tomato pinworm across various regions and the challenges it poses to tomato production, including the development of resistance to commonly used insecticides[3][4][5]. The findings from icipe offer a new perspective on managing this pest by using biopesticides that are not only effective but also minimize the negative impacts associated with synthetic chemicals. The implications of this research are significant for the future of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs. By incorporating biopesticides like neem extract and Bacillus thuringiensis isolates into IPM strategies, farmers could reduce their reliance on harmful synthetic pesticides, thereby promoting a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to agriculture. However, before these biopesticides can be widely adopted, further research, including field efficacy trials, is necessary to validate their effectiveness in real-world agricultural settings. In conclusion, the icipe study provides valuable insights into alternative pest control methods that could revolutionize the way we protect tomato crops from the devastating effects of the tomato pinworm. The use of biopesticides, particularly in combination, offers a promising solution that aligns with the growing demand for sustainable agricultural practices.



Main Study

1) Interactions between Bacillus thuringiensis and selected plant extracts for sustainable management of Phthorimaea absoluta.

Published 23rd April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Nutritional Composition and Bioactive Compounds in Tomatoes and Their Impact on Human Health and Disease: A Review.

3) Ecology, Worldwide Spread, and Management of the Invasive South American Tomato Pinworm, Tuta absoluta: Past, Present, and Future.

4) The evolution of multiple-insecticide resistance in UK populations of tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta.

5) Control failure likelihood and spatial dependence of insecticide resistance in the tomato pinworm, Tuta absoluta.

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