Multi-pronged approach to reducing tomato leaf miner devastation

The tomato leaf miner has been keeping European farmers busy since 2006. Andermatt Biocontrol aims to make a major contribution to the successful control of this pest in the future by offering various solutions.

by Samuel Stüssi and Felix Dubach

The tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) was first detected in Europe in 2006. Originating from South America, the pest has long been a problem in that region. Under favourable conditions, this nocturnal moth produces up to 12 generations per year with a developmental period of around 25 to 30 days. Eggs are laid mainly on the undersides of leaves. The first larval stages feed inside the leaves, creating mines. Older larval stages may leave the mines and attack fruits and stems. Due to intensive use of synthetic chemical pesticides and poor resistance management, many Tuta absoluta populations are now resistant to a variety of pesticides. The control strategy should therefore be based on a range of measures. In addition to established control strategies using beneficial organisms (Macrolophus in Northern Europe and Nesidiocorus in Southern Europe), Bacillus thuringiensis preparations (Delfin and Agree WP) and adapted cultivation measures, two further methods are available: a virus preparation (Tutavir) developed by Andermatt Biocontrol, and mating disruption technology.

Tomato leaf miner virus
Tutavir has been developed by Andermatt Biocontrol under the EU’s Biocomes research project to provide an effective, sustainable method to control the tomato leaf miner. Tutavir is a Phthorimaea operculella granulovirus (PhopGV) which was isolated from the potato tuber moth. Field trials in Italy have confirmed the excellent action against tomato leaf miner that was observed in the laboratory. Tutavir has a different mode of action to any other product currently available for use against tomato leaf miner. It is therefore expected to be a useful component of successful control and resistance management of the tomato leaf miner in the future. Plans are underway to obtain the necessary plant protection product registrations throughout Europe and other regions.

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Mating disruption
Andermatt Biocontrol has more than 20 years of experience with mating disruption technology for vineyards and orchards. Mating disruption is successful where low initial infestation and little incoming migration of adult moths is expected. To prevent any incoming migration of mated females, the dispensers should be located in the Tuta-infested area, as well as in a buffer zone of 500 meter surrounding the area. Dispensers must be distributed immediately after planting. The trial results from the Ticino and the experience from Italy, Spain, and Greece are promising. The product has already been approved in Italy and Andermatt Biocontrol also plans to seek approval in Switzerland.

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With combined use of cultivation measures, monitoring, Tutavir, mating disruption, beneficial organisms, and microbial products, controlling the problem pest Tuta absoluta becomes a manageable task.

For more information:
Andermatt Biocontrol
Stahlermatten 6
6146 Grossdietwil
Tel. +41 62 917 51 25
Fax +41 62 917 50 06

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