The RELACS project recently published two new scientific publications on promising plant protection tools and strategies to further reduce the use of external and contentious inputs, namely mineral oil and copper.
Under exceptional conditions and against specific pests, like whiteflies (one of the most harmful insect pests in greenhouses worldwide), mineral oil is occasionally used in Eastern European and Mediterranean countries. In a paper called “Vibrational communication and mating behavior of the greenhouse whitefly Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae)”, Fattoruso et al. analyse the role of vibrational signals in mating success. Based on their findings, they consider the use of vibrational playbacks interfering with greenhouse whitefly mating communication a promising option for pest control in greenhouses. They also discuss investigating the possibility to control the populations of greenhouse whiteflies via behavioural manipulation.
In several European countries, farmers use copper as plant protection product. RELACS investigates alternatives for this, like tagatose, a rare sugar metabolised by a limited number of microorganisms inhibiting a large spectrum of phytopathogens. In their article “Interactions of tagatose with the sugar metabolism are responsible for Phytophthora infestans growth inhibition”, Corneo et al. found the interactions of tagatose with the common sugar metabolism to be a key mode of action against P. infestans growth. This may represent the basis for the further development of tagatose as eco-friendly fungicide.