Mycopesticide (fungal biocontrol agent) for lesser mealworm control
- Biotech companies interested in developing new pesticide products
Industry challenge: Lesser mealworm is a significant pest of commercial broiler sheds in Australia. It carries food pathogens such as salmonella and campylobacter, damages shed floors and insulation through tunnelling, and interrupts feed conversion when consumed by the birds. Strong insecticide resistance has been detected in registered insecticides used by chicken meat producers. Lesser mealworm is also considered a pest in other major poultry production markets worldwide, including Brazil, United States, Asia and Europe.
Current opportunity: AgriFutures Australia and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland (DAFQ) have developed a mycopesticide formulated from the spores of the fungus Beauveria bassiana which are non-toxic to mammals and birds and leave no residues. There is no known insecticide resistance to beauveria in lesser mealworm populations or in other field insect populations. The mycopesticide would ease reliance on conventional chemical insecticides for lesser mealworm control and help reduce toxic residues in the environment. Beauveria mycopesticides in field trials at meat chicken farms with litter re-use and replacement regimens have reduced lesser mealworm populations by around 70% compared to untreated sheds after only a few applications. An opportunity exists for biotech companies interested in commercialising a mycopesticide product.
Other opportunities: In addition to opportunities in commercial chicken production, the pest is also present in commercial turkey production and layer facilities.
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