Microbial management of arthropod pests of tea: current state and prospects

Somnath Roy, Narayanannair Muraleedharan
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 2014, 98 (12): 5375-86
Sustainable tea cultivation will rely increasingly on alternatives to conventional chemical insecticides for pest management that are environment-friendly and reduce the amount of pesticide residues in made tea. Entomopathogens can provide effective control, conserve biodiversity, and serve as alternatives to chemical insecticides under several conditions. Due to their specificity for insects, these pathogens including viruses, bacteria, and fungi are ideal candidates for incorporation in the integrated pest management strategies for tea where their effects on other natural enemies will be minimal. Biological and ecological characteristics of several dominant natural entomopathogenic microorganisms have been well documented throughout the tea-growing countries particularly China, Japan, and India. But research to convert them to microbial insecticide formulations for tea pest control by evolving suitable techniques for production, standardization, formulation, and application has not progressed well except in Japan and China to some extent. Increased use of microbial control will depend on a variety of factors including improvements in the pathogens' virulence, formulation, delivery, etc. and an increased awareness of their attributes by growers and the general public. In this review, we provide an overview of microbial control of the key insect pests of tea and also the scope for future studies for their better utilization.

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