The Role of Symbiont-Targeted Strategies in the Management of Pentatomidae and Tephritidae Pests under an Integrated Vision

E. Gonella and A. Alma,  Agronomy,  13. 2023.

The interaction between insects and gut bacterial symbionts is, nowadays, regarded as an important element in the implementation of pest management, in consideration of the urgent need for sustainable alternatives to insecticide use. In this framework, a major tool is symbiotic control, with the main ready-to-use application represented by the interruption of obligate symbioses. Two insect families, namely Pentatomidae in the Hemiptera order and Tephritidae in Diptera, have been indicated as outstanding targets for symbiont-oriented control tactics. An important advantage of interrupting obligate symbioses is the target shift from insect to bacteria, which avoids insecticide use; however, the compatibility between this approach and other pest/disease management strategies is crucial to design low-impact pest control programs. Here we present the state of knowledge regarding the integration of symbiont manipulation in sustainable plant protection plans. Research assessing the potential for multitarget applications is reported, as well as studies on the impact of symbiont interruption on nontarget species. Besides symbiont-targeted pest control, another relevant outcome of symbiont manipulation is the restoration of microbial perturbation in mass-reared insects used in pest control programs, which is a required step to allow the success of other tactics, such as the Sterile Insect Technique. Despite the potential contribution that symbiont-targeted strategies may offer to integrated pest management, we point out that operational caveats may emerge in symbiont-oriented control in relation to the target extension on the label directions and to the number of required treatments. Future work is needed to increase the target range and the number of tested formulations exploiting the interruption of bacterial symbioses. This will also require assessment of the effect of different products on beneficial organisms, including biological control agents. Finally, the authorization of formulates for symbiotic control should be taken into consideration by the regulatory bodies, to really promote new readily available control options. © 2023 by the authors.

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