Endophytic fungi are heterotrophic microorganisms that inhabit the internal parts of plants locally or systemically without showing any disease symptoms due to establishment of different association ranging from mutualism to commensalism. Different medicinal plants has shown to have various kind of endophytic fungi. Published studies have shown that in-vitro culture of endophytic fungi on broth media can results in extracts that have active ingredients that can be used in medicine or as pesticides.
I am passionate of identifying specific endophytes fungi from various local medicinal plants that can produce bioactive extracts to control devastating vegetable insect pests. Different published studies had showed that synthetic pesticides have ingredients which are persistent hence retained in the environment and on crops. Examples of these ingredients are organophosphate, organochloride and carbamates. These persistent ingredients may cause environmental pollution, contaminate water, cause bioaccumulation, kill non target organisms, increase production expenses and most of all as pesticidal residues on consumed products lead to chronic conditions.
This project will be conducted in laboratory after collection of fresh samples from the field. Screening of promising active ingredients against vegetables insect pests will be performed by efficacy testing on different developmental stages of selected devastating vegetable insect pests. The endophytes producing the most promising pesticidal active ingredient will be identified. The bulk production of bioactive material will be performed in the laboratory using identified fungi. Then field trials will be performed in the horticultural research training institute Tengeru. Thi will be retried by other researchers at the institute and at the University of Dar es salaam. The results will be documented and communicated to different research institutes before the knowledge is disseminated to local vegetable farmers.
I have started to implement this idea by conducting research in Arumeru District, identifing local medicinal plants and starting preliminary sample collection, endophytic isolation and bioextract production. I hope from this I will obtain the bioactive ingredient to control Tuta absoluta, Bamisia tabaci, Thrips tabaci and Brevicoryne brassicae which are the most devastating vegetable insect pests.
Gabriel Michael Njau, Tanzania