Biopesticides from luminous bacteria safely target common agricultural pests: Taiwanese researchers

After years of research, Taiwan has developed a microbial insecticide that uses luminescent bacteria to target two common agricultural pests. T.According to researchers, this country will soon become the first country in the world to mass-produce this biopesticide.

according to press release A new biopesticide made using a bacterial pathogen called Photorhabdus luminescens can effectively eradicate carmine and two-spotted spider mites without adversely affecting consumers or the environment.

These tiny mites are notorious among Taiwanese farmers in papaya orchards because they reproduce rapidly and are prone to developing pesticide resistance.

Feng-chia Hsieh, head of TACTRI’s biopesticides department, told The Epoch Times on Nov. 4 that Taiwanese farmers have dozens of options when it comes to choosing acaricides. The low compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.5% for the past five years of pesticides for ticks indicates that there is a high demand for anti-mite treatments among farmers in Taiwan.

“In terms of killing mites, there are currently eight different mechanisms and 19 different chemicals on the market in varying concentrations for farmers to choose from, but they don’t know which one is best. hmm,” he said.

In addition to chemical pesticides that can harm consumers and the environment, farmers can also choose natural pesticides that use horticultural, mineral, or citrus essential oils. There are also tick control solutions that use natural predators such as lacewings and cunning flower bugs.

However, natural pest control methods have encountered bottlenecks in terms of marketability and large-scale application.

glowing trojan horse

Photorhabdus luminscensAccording to TACTRI, the new biopesticide active ingredient is lethal to hosts such as mites, moths and fungi.

Photorhabdus luminscens is a bacterium that lives in the gut of nematodes, tiny roundworms that kill insects. After a nematode invades an insect, bacteria are released from its gut to help kill the insect. Bacteria and nematodes replicate inside the insect host. Luminescent bacteria are highly pathogenic to insects and can rapidly kill insects at very low concentrations.

“It’s like a Trojan horse. The nematode doesn’t actually kill the host insect,” Shay says. “It’s actually the metabolites of photobacteria that make holes in the insect’s gut.”

Epoch Times photo
Microscopic observation of papaya mites before spraying Taiwan’s newly developed biopesticide. (Courtesy of the Institute of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, Taiwan)
Epoch Times photo
Papaya leaves observed under a microscope after being sprayed with Taiwan’s newly developed biopesticide. (Courtesy of the Institute of Pesticides and Toxic Substances, Taiwan)

The new biopesticide is the result of 18 years of research.

Obtaining the Photorhabdus luminscens bacterium was extremely difficult for the research team due to its microscopic size and its location inside a nematode.

“The research team traveled to Tainan’s Baihe District to obtain samples of dead host insects, then crushed them in the lab to find the bacteria. It was still very difficult because of the huge amount of residue…ingredients,” Shay said.

“It took TACTRI a year to isolate three subspecies of the bacterium, each with a different level of insecticidal activity.”

Taiwan will be the first country in the world to use Photorhabdus luminescens to create consumer products.

Metabolites extracted from bacteria can be stored at room temperature for up to one year. Additionally, TACTRI field tests have shown that biopesticides are safe for all mammals and more effective than chemical pesticides, while remaining relatively similar in price to chemical pesticides.

“Highly active, environmentally friendly, and non-resistant, TACTRI is expected to successfully develop microbial acaricides at a cost comparable to chemical pesticides and help reduce the use of chemical pesticides.” Shay said.

Rita Huang


Rita Huang is a financial news journalist based in Taiwan. She has been contributing to the Epoch Times since her 2014.

Olivia Lee