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UFLA, Embrapa use larvae residue for fungus, nematode controlqrcode

May. 14, 2024

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May. 14, 2024

The Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) discovered that using residue from the larvae of an insect can control the fungus, Fusarium oxysporum, and the nematode, Meloidogyne incognita. The team of scientists at UFLA, in partnership with Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation), discovered the substance from the leftovers from the commercial production of the Tenebrio molitor larva, an insect commonly used in animal feed.

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Laboratory experiments evaluated the effects of this residue, and the results revealed a significant reduction of up to 84% in the germination of spores from Fusarium oxysporum. The tests also showed an impressive reduction of 97% in the hatching of Meloidogyne incognita. Additionally, the pioneering study revealed that the incorporation and incubation of the larval residue into the soil promotes plant growth and development by increasing the amount of available nutrients, as it contains beneficial microbiota that produce essential substances. The study also showed that the product is not toxic to plants, as it does not cause phytotoxicity, and one of the components found in the residue is chitin, a polymer that offers various benefits to agriculture.

João Gondim.jpegUFLA researcher João Pedro Gondim highlighted the importance of the study, stating, ″The research scientifically and technically demonstrated the advantages of using Tenebrio molitor residue, not only for insect biofactories and residue users but also for producers and agricultural professionals." 

There was "a significant increase in the aboveground and root biomass of the plants, and we have proven the action mechanisms that suppress populations of these pathogens," he added.

The pathogens in question, such as Fusarium oxysporum and nematodes of the genus Meloidogyne, are constant threats to farmers, resulting in considerable economic losses and significant challenges to food security. It is estimated that these pathogens cause losses amounting to billions of dollars annually worldwide. In Brazil, it is estimated that losses due to the nematode total BRL65 billion per year, mainly due to intense soil exploitation and the sequence of crops susceptible to these phytopathogens. Therefore, the research results indicate a potentially effective and sustainable solution to minimize these issues.

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Tomato.jpegTests under controlled conditions also demonstrated a suppressive effect by the residue on Fusarium wilt in tomato plants. A significant reduction of 18% in disease severity was observed, along with a surprising increase in plant development of up to 328%. Furthermore, field tests were conducted to investigate the effects of applying the residue in the soil on nematode populations and tomato plant productivity. The results of these experiments demonstrated a remarkable reduction in nematode populations, reaching 88%, and a substantial increase in fruit yield, reaching 163%.

The research also involved additional experiments to assess the contribution of volatile compounds to the antifungal and nematicidal activity of the residue, and understand the mechanisms involved in its biological action. 

Wagner Bettiol.jpeg"The results of these experiments provided valuable insights into the potential of Tenebrio molitor larval residue for controlling diseases that affect crops, providing a solid basis for the results and conclusions presented in the study," said Wagner Bettiol, Researcher at Embrapa Environment.

The results offer a promising view of the potential of Tenebrio molitor larval residue as an effective tool for controlling tomato diseases and other crops, and this approach represents a significant advancement in the field of sustainable agriculture and can play a key role in ensuring global food security, Bettiol added.

This study has the potential to ensure higher returns from the commercial production of Tenebrio molitor, as it will add value to the residue generated in the production of this important animal protein, he further added. 

There is the prospect of products being made available if companies in the sector see potential in the Brazilian market, he said in conclusion.

(Editing by Leonardo Gottems, reporter for AgroPages)


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