Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Bilateral Contracts and Grants with Industry
Partnerships and Cooperations
XML PDF e-pub
PDF e-Pub

Section: Application Domains

Biological control for plants and micro-plants production systems

This research concentrates on the protection of cultures of photosynthetic organisms against their pests or their competitors. The cultures we study are crop and micro-algae productions. In both cases, the devices are more or less open to the outside, depending on the application (greenhouse/field, photobioreactor/raceway), so that they may give access to harmful pathogens and invading species. We opt for protecting the culture through the use of biocontrol in a broad sense.

In crop production, biocontrol is indeed a very promising alternative to reduce pesticide use: it helps protecting the environment, as well as the health of consumers and producers; it limits the development of resistance (in comparison to chemicals). The use of biocontrol agents, which are, generically, natural enemies (predators, parasitoids or pathogens) of crop pests [89], is however not widespread yet because it often lacks efficiency in real-life crop production systems (while its efficiency in the laboratory is much higher) and can fail to be economically competitive. Resistant crops are also used instead of pesticides to control pests and pathogens, but the latter eventually more or less rapidly overcome the resistance, so these crops need to be replaced by new resistant crops. As resistant genes are a potentially limited resource, a challenge is to ensure the durability of crop resistance. Our objective is to propose models that would help to explain which factors are locks that prevent the smooth transition from the laboratory to the agricultural crop, as well as develop new methods for the optimal deployment of the pests natural enemies and of crop resistance.

Microalgae production is faced with exactly the same problems since predators of the produced microalgae (e.g. zooplankton) or simply other species of microalgae can invade the photobioreactors and outcompete or eradicate the one that we wish to produce. Methods need therefore to be proposed for fighting the invading species; this could be done by introducing predators of the pest and so keeping it under control, or by controling the conditions of culture in order to reduce the possibility of invasion; the design of such methods could greatly take advantage of our knowledge developed in crop protection since the problems and models are related.