Control of aphids on strawberries

Sustainable crop production is today’s biggest need. It can offer increased production on the same land with decreased negative environmental impacts and enhancing the natural ecosystem. I have brought my project to Denmark from Pakistan. In Pakistan, strawberry crop is a very famous crop, which is propagated each year by runners. Strawberries can be produced by seed but it is not advisable because it can take two years to bear fruit. Runners are the quick way to get berries. Aphids are the key pest to strawberries and cause huge damage to the crop incurring a loss of berries, which results in an economical loss to the farmers. The Punjab area in Pakistan is producing strawberries annually. Over the last few years, due to climatic changes, the weather is getting extremely hot encouraging this key pest to increase in number. Aphids are a vector of some diseases as well. In Pakistan, farmers are using a lot of insecticides and pesticides in order to control aphids and increase production of berries. There should be an alternative ways to decrease such a key pest, which are more eco-friendly and facilitate people to enjoy these heavenly berries by reducing the cost of berries as well.

The aim of this project is to identify key factors with the potential to promote the contribution of generalist predators and increasing the quality and yield of strawberries.

Hypothesis: The main hypothesis is that distinct guilds of natural enemies provide better biological control than single guilds, and that the plant may mediate the effect:

  1. Predators from two different guilds can improve predation compared to predators from the same guild (or species)
  2. Predator induced mortality can reduce pest populations and will be affected by the predator type or combinations
  3. Plant (variety/health/induced resistance) will affect predator-herbivore interaction

Methods: The following steps will be taken:

  1. Review of the literature. Potentially in the form of a meta-analysis of existing knowledge of aphids in strawberries
  2. Bioassays.
    1. Predator –prey interactions. One or two guild effect on aphid control
    1. Predator induced resistance; an experiment will be established to test the induced resistance against aphids or against diseases.
  3. Characterisation of predator induced plant chemicals
  4. Field sampling, taxonomy and methods to characterize natural enemy community in strawberry plants.

I have done some pilot studies to see the effect of a predator against aphids. I have collected two of the most damaging aphid species of strawberries. Chaetosiphon fragaefolli and Macrosiphum euphorbiae. C .fragaefolli is a true strawberry aphid species and a specialist one and latter one is a generalist one. I have two different cultures for these two species. I am testing a predator Orius majusculus against both of these aphid species. I will also investigate a combined effect of different guilds (Orius majusculus, Adalia bipunctata, Chrysoperla carnea) against aphids and see if the combination of different guilds is effective against aphid species.

The expected outcome of this research will be that with the different guilds of predators we can control and even halt population of aphids. Induced resistance against aphids can also be helpful against aphid growth and fecundity.

I will go back to my country and contribute to sustainable cropping, not only strawberries but other crops as well.  I humbly state please consider my application and enthusiasm it’s for me going to be the life changing opportunity and together with moral, technological and intellectual support I will be able to play my part to change the world. I will be more an asset then a liability.

Nimra Musaqaf, Pakistan/Denmark

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