6.15.4: Biological Control of Microbes - Biology

6.15.4: Biological Control of Microbes - Biology

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  • Describe the types of antimicrobial agents available for controlling the growth of microbes

A wide variety of chemicals called antimicrobial agents are available for controlling the growth of microbes. For example:

  1. Chemotherapeutic agents, including antibiotics, are administered into the infected body.
  2. Disinfectants are chemical agents used on inanimate objects to lower the level of microbes present on the object. These are not capable of sterilizing, typically because they fail to kill endospores, some viruses, and organisms such as Mycobacteriumtuberculosis.
  3. Antiseptics are chemicals used on living tissue to decrease the number of microbes present in that tissue.

Disinfectants and antiseptics affect bacteria in many ways. Those that result in bacterial death are called bactericidal agents. Those causing temporary inhibition of growth are bacteriostatic agents. No single antimicrobial agent is most effective for use in all situations – different situations may call for different agents. A number of factors affect selection of the best agent for any given situation – Antimicrobial agents must be selected with specific organisms and environmental conditions in mind. Additional variables to consider in the selection of an antimicrobial agent include pH, solubility, toxicity, organic material present, and cost.

Once an agent has been selected, it is important to evaluate it’s effectiveness. In evaluating the effectiveness of antimicrobial agents, the concentration, length of contact, and whether it is lethal (-cidal) or inhibiting (-static) at that concentration of exposure are the important criteria.

Prior to the advent of antibiotics, live organisms were used directly in attempts to control microbial infections. Examples of such biological control included bacteriotherapy, bacteriophage therapy, malaria therapy, probiotics, and the use of living maggots. In all cases the organisms themselves rather than a product of their metabolism were used as the potentially curative agent. The biological control of human infections was largely restricted to the treatment of surface infections of the skin and mucous membrane. Additionally, attempts were made to alter the microflora of the human intestinal tract to favor the growth of benign or beneficial bacteria or yeasts. Modern studies suggest that the use of biological control in the treatment of human infections should be re-evaluated in the light of the increasing world-wide occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the opportunities provided by recent developments in gene technology.

Key Points

  • Most of the examples of biologic control of microbes predate the sulphonamides and penicillin.
  • Maggot therapy, although repellent by modern standards, proved to be surprisingly effective.
  • Today, a wide variety of chemicals called antimicrobial agents are available for controlling the growth of microbes. These include chemotherapeutic agents, disinfectants, and antiseptics.

The Science Behind Microbial and Biological Products

On the surface, a crop field seems as dull as, well, dirt. Underneath it, though, is an invisible war that’s constantly being waged. Soil microbes (like bacteria and fungi) continually slug it out for food and dominance. Some of these microbes are bad, but many are good since they aid in tasks like the transfer of crop nutrients or pest control.

It’s into this fray that microbial and biological products enter. At best, microbes introduced to the soil as seed treatments or as liquid can play well with existing soil organisms and help crops better use nutrients or slay pests. Soybean farmers have long used inoculants to jump-start nitrogen-fixing rhizobia bacteria in the soil.

At worst, these products suffer from a “bugs in a jug” stigma of the days when salesmen sold them with a shoe shine, a smile, no science, and no benefit.

“If you look back over the last 15, 20, 25 years at the evolution of microbial products in agriculture, the road is littered with ones that have come and gone. It’s not because they never worked it’s because they gave inconsistent results,” says Michael Miille, CEO of Joyn Bio, a joint venture formed earlier this year between Bayer and Ginkgo Bioworks to develop products to improve plant nitrogen efficiency.

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6.15.4: Biological Control of Microbes - Biology

What is Biological Control?

This segment includes several paragraphs with general information about biological control and these subsections:

  • Classical Biological Control
  • Augmentation
  • Purchase and Release of Natural Enemies

Biological control is a component of an integrated pest management strategy. It is defined as the reduction of pest populations by natural enemies and typically involves an active human role. Keep in mind that all insect species are also suppressed by naturally occurring organisms and environmental factors, with no human input. This is frequently referred to as natural control. This guide emphasizes the biological control of insects but biological control of weeds and plant diseases is also included. Natural enemies of insect pests, also known as biological control agents, include predators, parasitoids, and pathogens. Biological control of weeds includes insects and pathogens. Biological control agents of plant diseases are most often referred to as antagonists.

Predators, such as lady beetles and lacewings, are mainly free-living species that consume a large number of prey during their lifetime. Parasitoids are species whose immature stage develops on or within a single insect host, ultimately killing the host. Many species of wasps and some flies are parasitoids. Pathogens are disease-causing organisms including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. They kill or debilitate their host and are relatively specific to certain insect groups. Each of these natural enemy groups is discussed in much greater detail in following sections.

The behaviors and life cycles of natural enemies can be relatively simple or extraordinarily complex, and not all natural enemies of insects are beneficial to crop production. For example, hyperparasitoids are parasitoids of other parasitoids. In potatoes grown in Maine, 22 parasitoids of aphids were identified, yet these were attacked by 18 additional species of hyperparasitoids.

This guide concentrates on those species for which the benefits of their presence outweigh any disadvantages. A successful natural enemy should have a high reproductive rate, good searching ability, host specificity, be adaptable to different environmental conditions, and be synchronized with its host (pest).

A high reproductive rate is important so that populations of the natural enemy can rapidly increase when hosts are available. The natural enemy must be effective at searching for its host and it should be searching for only one or a few host species. Spiders, for example, feed on many different hosts including other natural enemies. It is also very important that the natural enemy occur at the same time as its host. For example, if the natural enemy is an egg parasitoid, it must be present when host eggs are available. No natural enemy has all these attributes, but those with several characteristics will be more important in helping maintain pest populations.

There are three broad and somewhat overlapping types of biological control: conservation, classical biological control (introduction of natural enemies to a new locale), and augmentation.

The conservation of natural enemies is probably the most important and readily available biological control practice available to growers. Natural enemies occur in all production systems, from the backyard garden to the commercial field. They are adapted to the local environment and to the target pest, and their conservation is generally simple and cost-effective. With relatively little effort the activity of these natural enemies can be observed. Lacewings, lady beetles, hover fly larvae, and parasitized aphid mummies are almost always present in aphid colonies. Fungus-infected adult flies are often common following periods of high humidity. These natural controls are important and need to be conserved and considered when making pest management decisions. In many instances the importance of natural enemies has not been adequately studied or does not become apparent until insecticide use is stopped or reduced. Often the best we can do is to recognize that these factors are present and minimize negative impacts on them. If an insecticide is needed, every effort should be made to use a selective material in a selective manner.


Particular bacterial strains in certain natural environments prevent infectious diseases of plant roots. How these bacteria achieve this protection from pathogenic fungi has been analysed in detail in biocontrol strains of fluorescent pseudomonads. During root colonization, these bacteria produce antifungal antibiotics, elicit induced systemic resistance in the host plant or interfere specifically with fungal pathogenicity factors. Before engaging in these activities, biocontrol bacteria go through several regulatory processes at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels.

Insect Midgut and Insecticidal Proteins

Maria Helena Neves Lobo Silva Filha , . Lêda Regis , in Advances in Insect Physiology , 2014

1.1 Background

The utilisation of entomopathogenic bacteria for insect control started in the 1960s with the discovery and development of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) varieties that produced insecticidal proteins active against agricultural insect pests. The B. thuringiensis serovar. israelensis (Bti) discovered by Goldberg and Margalit (1978) was the first serotype identified as active against Diptera larvae ( de Barjac, 1978 ). This entomopathogenic bacterium enjoyed a rapid development from the characterisation of its properties to field utilisation ( Becker, 1997 Guillet et al., 1990 Margalit and Dean, 1985 ), mainly because of the serious resistance problems encountered by synthetic insecticides in vector-control programmes during that period. The second mosquitocidal bacterium Lysinibacillus sphaericus (Ls), previously designated as B. sphaericus, was identified by Neide in 1904 ( Neide, 1904 ). Characterisation of this species as a mosquito pathogen was initiated by Kellen, much later, when a toxic strain was isolated from cadavers of Culiseta incidens larvae ( Kellen et al., 1965 ). The Kellen (K) strain displayed a low level of toxicity and did not attract much interest for its development as a control agent. The discovery by Singer (1973) , of the SSII-1 strain, that displayed a higher activity than the K strain renewed the interest in this bacterium and motivated the search for new strains. Later, strains with high activity were discovered ( Singer, 1977 Weiser, 1984 Wickremesingue and Mendis, 1980 ) that led to the development of the use of Ls as a mosquito-control agent.

Insecticidal factors produced by Ls were identified in strains isolated worldwide, and these isolates were classified according to their toxicity to mosquitoes. Early studies showed that the high activity of some strains was associated with the production of crystalline inclusions during the bacterial sporulation ( Fig. 3.1 ) ( de Barjac and Charles, 1983 Kalfon et al., 1984 Payne and Davidson, 1984 Yousten and Davidson, 1982 ). The crystals are synthesised during stage III of sporulation, and once formed, they remain associated with the spore within the exosporium ( Kalfon et al., 1984 Yousten and Davidson, 1982 ). A study showed that mutant strains that were blocked from the early stages of sporulation did not produce crystals and lost their toxicity toward larvae, which confirmed the essential role played by the crystals for the mosquitocidal activity of these strains ( Charles et al., 1988 ). The active crystals contain the binary (Bin) protoxin, which is the major insecticidal protein produced by Ls ( Baumann et al., 1985 ).

Figure 3.1 . Micrography of Lysinibacillus sphaericus strain 2297 at the end of sporulation. (A) Spore and crystal are in the left- and right side of the exosporium, respectively. (B) Crystal lattice.

Taken from Charles et al. (2010) .

Vladimir V. Gouli , . José A.P. Marcelino , in Concise Illustrated Dictionary of Biocontrol Terms , 2016

trademark for insecticide based on the entomopathogenic bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai strain GC-91 used for control of different insects from the order Lepidoptera on many agricultural crops. Manufactured by Certis, USA.

trademark for insecticide based on the bacterium Bacillus popilliae (=Paenibacillus popilliae), for control of Japanese beetles, chafers, as well as some May and June beetles. Manufactured by Fairfax Biological Laboratory, Inc., USA.

Japanese gypsy-moth disease

disease of larvae of Porthetria dispar thought to be caused by the bacterium Streptococcus disparis. The symptomatic larvae cease to eat and become diarrheic. In the late stages of the disease, the Streptococcus is found in the hemocoel and gradually in the insect’s muscle tissue.

trademark for insecticide based on the entomopathogenic bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki strain SA-11 used for control of different insects from the order Lepidoptera on different agricultural and ornamental crops. Manufactured by Certis, USA.

family Pteromalidae, groups many insect species of parasitic nature.

sesquiterpenoid analog of the juvenile hormone of insects derived from North American balsam fir tree, Abies balsamea and used for biocontrol of insects.

specific group of organic substances that, as hormones, regulate the development of larval characteristics in insects. Synthetic chemical analogs are developed as insecticides.

synthetic chemicals having natural juvenile properties.

Recent trends in control methods for bacterial wilt diseases caused by Ralstonia solanacearum

Previous studies have described the development of control methods against bacterial wilt diseases caused by Ralstonia solanacearum. This review focused on recent advances in control measures, such as biological, physical, chemical, cultural, and integral measures, as well as biocontrol efficacy and suppression mechanisms. Biological control agents (BCAs) have been dominated by bacteria (90%) and fungi (10%). Avirulent strains of R. solanacearum, Pseudomonas spp., Bacillus spp., and Streptomyces spp. are well-known BCAs. New or uncommon BCAs have also been identified such as Acinetobacter sp., Burkholderia sp., and Paenibacillus sp. Inoculation methods for BCAs affect biocontrol efficacy, such as pouring or drenching soil, dipping of roots, and seed coatings. The amendment of different organic matter, such as plant residue, animal waste, and simple organic compounds, have frequently been reported to suppress bacterial wilt diseases. The combined application of BCAs and their substrates was shown to more effectively suppress bacterial wilt in the tomato. Suppression mechanisms are typically attributed to the antibacterial metabolites produced by BCAs or those present in natural products however, the number of studies related to host resistance to the pathogen is increasing. Enhanced/modified soil microbial communities are also indirectly involved in disease suppression. New promising types of control measures include biological soil disinfection using substrates that release volatile compounds. This review described recent advances in different control measures. We focused on the importance of integrated pest management (IPM) for bacterial wilt diseases.


Chemical hazards typically found in laboratory settings include carcinogens, toxins, irritants, corrosives, and sensitizers. Biological hazards include viruses, bacteria, fungi, prions, and biologically-derived toxins, which may be present in body fluids and tissue, cell culture specimens, and laboratory animals. Routes of exposure for chemical and biological hazards include inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, and eye contact. [2]

A complete understanding of experimental risks associated with synthetic biology is helping to enforce the knowledge and effectiveness of biosafety. [3] With the potential future creation of man-made unicellular organisms, some are beginning to consider the effect that these organisms will have on biomass already present. Scientists estimate that within the next few decades, organism design will be sophisticated enough to accomplish tasks such as creating biofuels and lowering the levels of harmful substances in the atmosphere. [4] Scientist that favor the development of synthetic biology claim that the use of biosafety mechanisms such as suicide genes and nutrient dependencies will ensure the organisms cannot survive outside of the lab setting in which they were originally created. [5] Organizations like the ETC Group argue that regulations should control the creation of organisms that could potentially harm existing life. They also argue that the development of these organisms will simply shift the consumption of petroleum to the utilization of biomass in order to create energy. [6] These organisms can harm existing life by affecting the prey/predator food chain, reproduction between species, as well as competition against other species (species at risk, or act as an invasive species). Synthetic vaccines are now being produced in the lab. These have caused a lot of excitement in the pharmaceutical industry as they will be cheaper to produce, allow quicker production, as well as enhance the knowledge of virology and immunology.

Biosafety, in medicine and health care settings, specifically refers to proper handling of organs or tissues from biological origin, or genetic therapy products, viruses with respect to the environment, [7] to ensure the safety of health care workers, researchers, lab staff, patients, and the general public. Laboratories are assigned a biosafety level numbered 1 through 4 based on their potential biohazard risk level. [8] The employing authority, through the laboratory director, is responsible for ensuring that there is adequate surveillance of the health of laboratory personnel. [9] The objective of such surveillance is to monitor for occupationally acquired diseases. [10] The World Health Organization attributes human error and poor technique [10] as the primary cause of mishandling of biohazardous materials.

Biosafety is also becoming a global concern and requires multilevel resources and international collaboration to monitor, prevent and correct accidents from unintended and malicious release and also to prevent that bioterrorists get their hands-on biologics sample to create biologic weapons of mass destruction. Even people outside of the health sector needs to be involved as in the case of the Ebola outbreak the impact that it had on businesses and travel required that private sectors, international banks together pledged more than $2 billion to combat the epidemic. [11] The bureau of international Security and nonproliferation (ISN) is responsible for managing a broad range of U.S. nonproliferation policies, programs, agreements, and initiatives, and biological weapon is one their concerns Biosafety has its risks and benefits. All stakeholders must try to find a balance between cost-effectiveness of safety measures and use evidence-based safety practices and recommendations, measure the outcomes and consistently reevaluate the potential benefits that biosafety represents for human health. Biosafety level designations are based on a composite of the design features, construction, containment facilities, equipment, practices and operational procedures required for working with agents from the various risk groups. [10]

Classification of biohazardous materials is subjective and the risk assessment is determined by the individuals most familiar with the specific characteristics of the organism. [10] There are several factors taken into account when assessing an organism and the classification process.

  • Risk Group 1: (no or low individual and community risk) A microorganism that is unlikely to cause human or animal disease. [12]
  • Risk Group 2 : (moderate individual risk, low community risk) A pathogen that can cause human or animal disease but is unlikely to be a serious hazard to laboratory workers, the community, livestock or the environment. Laboratory exposures may cause serious infection, but effective treatment and preventive measures are available and the risk of spread of infection is limited. [10]
  • Risk Group 3 : (high individual risk, low community risk) A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease but does not ordinarily spread from one infected individual to another. Effective treatment and preventive measures are available. [10]
  • Risk Group 4 : (high individual and community risk) A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease and that can be readily transmitted from one individual to another, directly or indirectly. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available. [10]

See World Health Organization Biosafety Laboratory Guidelines: World Health Organization Biosafety Laboratory Guildlines

Investigations have shown that there are hundreds of unreported biosafety accidents, with laboratories self-policing the handling of biohazardous materials and lack of reporting. [13] Poor record keeping, improper disposal, and mishandling biohazardous materials result in increased risks of biochemical contamination for both the public and environment. [14]

Along with the precautions taken during the handling process of biohazardous materials, the World Health Organization recommends: Staff training should always include information on safe methods for highly hazardous procedures that are commonly encountered by all laboratory personnel and which involve: [10]

  1. Inhalation risks (i.e. aerosol production) when using loops, streaking agar plates,
  2. pipetting, making smears, opening cultures, taking blood/serum samples, centrifuging, etc.
  3. Ingestion risks when handling specimens, smears and cultures
  4. Risks of percutaneous exposures when using syringes and needles
  5. Bites and scratches when handling animals
  6. Handling of blood and other potentially hazardous pathological materials
  7. Decontamination and disposal of infectious material.

Legal information Edit

In June 2009, the Trans-Federal Task Force On Optimizing Biosafety and Biocontainment Oversight recommended the formation of an agency to coordinate high safety risk level labs (3 and 4), and voluntary, non-punitive measures for incident reporting. [15] However, it is unclear as to what changes may or may not have been implemented following their recommendations.

United States Code of Federal Regulations Edit

The United States Code of Federal Regulations is the codification (law), or collection of laws specific to a specific to a jurisdiction that represent broad areas subject to federal regulation. [16] Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations addresses laws concerning Public Health issues including biosafety which can be found under the citation 42 CFR 73 to 42 CFR 73.21 by accessing the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) website. [17]

Title 42 Section 73 of the CFR addresses specific aspects of biosafety including Occupational safety and health, transportation of biohazardous materials and safety plans for laboratories using potential biohazards. While biocontainment, as defined in the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories [18] and Primary Containment for Biohazards: Selection, Installation and Use of Biosafety Cabinets [18] manuals available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website much of the design, implementation and monitoring of protocols are left up to state and local authorities. [17]

The United States CFR states "An individual or entity required to register [as a user of biological agents] must develop and implement a written biosafety plan that is commensurate with the risk of the select agent or toxin" [17] which is followed by 3 recommended sources for laboratory reference.

  1. The CDC/NIH publication, "Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories." [17]
  2. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations in 29 CFR parts 1910.1200 and 1910.1450. [17]
  3. The "NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules," (NIH Guidelines). [17]

While clearly the needs of biocontainment and biosafety measures vary across government, academic and private industry laboratories, biological agents pose similar risks independent of their locale. [19] Laws relating to biosafety are not easily accessible and there are few federal regulations that are readily available for a potential trainee to reference outside of the publications recommended in 42 CFR 73.12. [17] [18] Therefore, training is the responsibility of lab employers [17] and is not consistent across various laboratory types thereby increasing the risk of accidental release of biological hazards that pose serious health threats to the humans, animals and the ecosystem as a whole.

Agency guidance Edit

Many government agencies have made guidelines and recommendations in an effort to increase biosafety measures across laboratories in the United States. Agencies involved in producing policies surrounding biosafety within a hospital, pharmacy or clinical research laboratory include: the CDC, FDA, USDA, DHHS, DoT, EPA and potentially other local organizations including public health departments. The federal government does set some standards and recommendations for States to meet their standards, most of which fall under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. [20] but currently, there is no single federal regulating agency directly responsible for ensuring the safety of biohazardous handling, storage, identification, clean-up and disposal. In addition to the CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency has some of the most accessible information on ecological impacts of biohazards, how to handle spills, reporting guidelines and proper disposal of agents dangerous to the environment. [21] Many of these agencies have their own manuals and guidance documents relating to training and certain aspects of biosafety directly tied to their agency's scope, including transportation, storage and handling of blood borne pathogens. (OSHA, [22] IATA). The American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) has a list of such agencies and links to their websites, [23] along with links to publications and guidance documents to assist in risk assessment, lab design and adherence to laboratory exposure control plans. Many of these agencies were members of the 2009 Task Force on BioSafety. [24] There was also a formation of a Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, but this is more concernend with national defense programs and biosecurity.

Ultimately states and local governments, as well as private industry labs, are left to make the final determinants for their own biosafety programs, which vary widely in scope and enforcement across the United States. [25] Not all state programs address biosafety from all necessary perspectives, which should not just include personal safety, but also emphasize an full understanding among laboratory personnel of quality control and assurance, exposure potential impacts on the environment, and general public safety. [26]

Toby Ord puts into question whether the current international conventions regarding biotechnology research and development regulation, and self-regulation by biotechnology companies and the scientific community are adequate. [27]

State occupational safety plans are often focused on transportation, disposal, and risk assessment, allowing caveats for safety audits, but ultimately leaves the training in the hands of the employer. [28] 22 states have approved Occupational Safety plans by OSHA that are audited annually for effectiveness. [20] These plans apply to private and public sector workers, and not necessarily state/ government workers, and not all specifically have a comprehensive program for all aspects of biohazard management from start to finish. Sometimes biohazard management plans are limited only to workers in transportation specific job titles. The enforcement and training on such regulations can vary from lab to lab based on the State's plans for occupational health and safety. With the exception of DoD lab personnel, CDC lab personnel, First responders, and DoT employees, enforcement of training is inconsistent, and while training is required to be done, specifics on the breadth and frequency of refresher training does not seem consistent from state to state penalties may never be assessed without larger regulating bodies being aware of non-compliance, and enforcement is limited. [29]

Medical waste management in the United States Edit

Medical waste management was identified as an issue in the 1980s with the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 [30] becoming the new standard in biohazard waste disposal.

Although the Federal Government, EPA & DOT provide some oversight of regulated medical waste storage, transportation, and disposal the majority of biohazard medical waste is regulated at the state level. [30] Each state is responsible for regulation and management of their own bioharzardous waste with each state varying in their regulatory process. Record keeping of biohazardous waste also varies between states.

Medical healthcare centers, hospitals veterinary clinics, clinical laboratories and other facilities generate over one million tons of waste each year. [30] Although the majority of this waste is as harmless as common household waste, as much as 15 percent of this waste poses a potential infection hazard, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). [30] Medical waste is required to be rendered non-infectious before it can be disposed of. [30] There are several different methods to treat and dispose of biohazardous waste. In the United States, the primary methods for treatment and disposal of biohazard, medical and sharps waste may include: [30]

Different forms of biohazardous wasted required different treatments for their proper waste management. This is determined largely be each states regulations. Currently, there are several contracted companies that focus on medical, sharps and biological hazard disposal. Stericycle and Daniels Health [31] are two national leaders in medical waste and pharmaceutical disposal in the United States. [32]

Incidents of non-compliance and reform efforts Edit

The United States Government has made it clear that biosafety is to be taken very seriously. [33] In 2014, incidents with Anthrax and Ebola pathogens in CDC laboratories ( [34] [35] ), prompted the CDC director Tom Frieden to issue a moratorium for research with these types of select agents. An investigation concluded that there was a lack of adherence to safety protocols and "inadequate safeguards" in place. This indicated a lack of proper training or reinforcement of training and supervision on regular basis for lab personnel.

Following these incidents, the CDC established an External Laboratory Safety Workgroup (ELSW), [36] and suggestions have been made to reform effectiveness of the Federal Select Agent Program. [37] The White House issued a report on national biosafety priorities in 2015, outlining next steps for a national biosafety and security program, and addressed biological safety needs for health research, national defense, and public safety. [38]

In 2016, the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) had a presentation at their annual meeting focused on improving biosafety culture. [39] This same year, The UPMC Center for Health Security issued a case study report including reviews of ten different nations' current biosafety regulations, including the United States. Their goal was to "provide a foundation for identifying national‐level biosafety norms and enable initial assessment of biosafety priorities necessary for developing effective national biosafety regulation and oversight." [40]

How to get Started

Learning how to use biological control involves a lot of research and is a continuous learning journey. If you want to try this method of controlling a pest population yourself, there are a few crucial steps you need to follow.

Do your homework. Before you even plant your crops or purchase your control agents, you should do your research. Know which control agents work best with your crops and with your environment. You might try to find a local gardening group that practices biocontrol — they’ll have a lot of useful information to pull from.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Before using biocontrol, you need to have a plan and you need to stick with it. Take advantage of the methods that others have already successfully used to control your pest.

Do a bit of research and ask questions at your local nursery. Often, local garden experts will be knowledgeable about local pests and will be able to point you in the right direction. You want to have a well thought-out plan so you don’t end up switching back to chemical pesticides half-way through, ruining any progress you’ve made.

Know where to get your supplies. Before you start, you need to make sure you have everything you need. Ask around and find a reliable supplier who has decent product knowledge so you can ask questions when they come up.

Timing is key. Make sure to time the release of your agents correctly — different control agents and methods require different timing. You want to give your control agents the best chance of accomplishing your goal as possible.

Keep learning. Continue researching your methods. You may notice that you hit a few snags along the way or things didn’t work the way you expected them to. Keep track of your progress so you can adjust as needed. You might also keep an eye out for educational opportunities like seminars, since biocontrol is an evolving science.

Watch the video: Biological controls in Action: Parasitic WaspsAphidius ervi (September 2022).


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