Agriculture faces new challenges as a consequence of the increase of human populations, the demand of more sustainable ways of production and the increase of crop pest resistances and invasions. In this context, crop protection methods relying on the use of natural enemies (biological control) are of utmost importance. Yet, research and development in biological control suffers from structural problems limiting innovation and development of reliable and efficient new techniques. The aim of IPRABIO is to promote the integration of new practices (derived from research in ecology & evolution) into programs of biocontrol against arthropod crop pests. More specifically, the project will rely on the development of international biocontrol programs in which (1) The links between researchers from several disciplines will be strengthened; (2) Complementary morphological and genetic characterization methods will be used to identify the pests infesting crops and to research and select the most adequate biocontrol agents; (3) Quality control procedures based on genetic and phenotypic characterization of insects will be implemented to optimize the rearing protocols of biocontrol agents in laboratory or commercial conditions; (4) The biotic and abiotic conditions affecting the establishment of introduced populations of biocontrol agents will be investigated.
IPRABIO will support the development of these biocontrol programs by creating durable collaboration between partners working against same crop pests, but displaying different fields of expertise and using different techniques in their respective geographical area. Hence, IPRABIO will have three types of impacts: on research and development in crop protection; on the communication and exchange of ideas, methods, competences among research teams working on biocontrol worldwide; on the development of biocontrol solutions against 8 pests currently invading Europe.