Agri Kultuur September / September 2016 - Page 22

Dane McDonald D HORTGRO eciduous fruit growers are set to benefit from an exciting collaboration which has been initiated between Stellenbosch University insect biological control researcher Dr Antoinette Malan and a bioprocess engineering expert from the Indian subcontinent. Mass production Malan specialises in the development of methods whereby biological organisms like nematodes can be used to control economically important fruit pests. Belur says that the only way to achieve mass production was through the use of bioreactors – a process in which he has honed his skills over several years. HORTGRO Science Programme Manager for Crop Protection Matthew Addison says that the industry-funded research programme started with a basic survey of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN’s) eight years ago. “As a bioprocess engineer I have the expertise in developing the process and I have some experience with respect to nematodes,” he says. “We now have the basics in place and the needed know-how to use EPN’s on a number of pest insects, and now we need to refine the mass culture of the various EPN species involved,” he says. Mermis nigrescens, a species of nematode emerging from a great green bush-cricket (Tettigonia viridissima) For the next three years Malan will team up with Dr Prasanna Belur from the National Institute of Karnataka, Surathkal to build knowledge and develop expertise for the mass production of the insect-fighting nematodes. Belur completed an M.E in biotechnology and a PhD in bioprocess development. After his academic training he acquired seven years of industrial experience before embarking on a career in academia where nematode culture features as one of his areas of interest. Nematodes emerging from a wax moth larva cadaver File:Waxmothcadaverusda.jpg