We study the interactions between micro-organisms, insects and mites. We do this in three areas of research: biological control, Integrated Pest Management, and bee health. The ultimate aims of this work are twofold: (1) develop more sustainable methods of pest management for the benefit of agriculture, people and the environment; and (2) improve basic knowledge of the interactions between invertebrates and microbes.
Biological control and Integrated Pest Management
Agricultural production will have to increase significantly in the next decades to meet the demands of an expanding human population. This needs to be done without causing further strain to the environment. Pests reduce the potential global yield of crops by 30 – 40%. Therefore, improving pest control is a highly significant way of increasing access to food. The best way to achieve this is through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Biological control using entomopathogens can be a valuable component of IPM.
Honey bee health
About a third of our food comes from plants that are pollinated by insects, including honey bees and other species. Unfortunately, insect pollinators are in decline. One of our most important pollinators, the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, faces serious threats from parasitic diseases, especially the varroa mite. We are investigating new solutions to honey bee diseases. We also do basic research on the interactions between honey bees and their parasites. Our bee research is done through a long standing collaboration with Rothamsted Research, Harpenden.
Current and recent research
· Biological control of the varroa mite
· Honey bee genomics
· Biopesticide regulation and governance
· The ecology of anamorphic entomopathogenic fungi
· Evaluation of entomopathogenic fungi for the control of the cabbage root fly
· Fungal pathogens of mites and ticks
· Entomopathogenic fungi: a second line of defence against spider mites
· Compatibility of Beauveria bassiana with Amblyseius cucumeris to control western flower thrips on cucumber plants
· Temperature-growth interactions of entomopathogenic fungi
· Physiological manipulation of endogenous reserves of entomopathogenic fungi