Crop Protection

Crop protection entails the study and identification of bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, insects and mites which may infest plants. We also look into efficient techniques to trace and contain these pathogens. The reduction of and alternatives for pesticide use are also part of our research.

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Insects and Mites

Otiorhynchus sulcatusInsects may not only harm crops, but also stored plants and vegetables, houses and other buildings, public parks and private gardens. They may also pose a risk when exporting or importing plant material (quarantine organisms). ILVO has expertise in the diagnosis and detection of harmful insects. We also research biological and chemical control of insects.

Mites are small eight-legged arthropods. Some of these can cause considerable damage to our agriculture and horticulture, such as gall mites on laurel. In addition to studying harmful mites, we also research anti-mite control strategies and study the natural enemies of spider mites.

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Bacteria

Erwinia on potatoeBacterial diseases pose a huge problem for various crops. ILVO research not only focuses on diseases in major crops, such as Dickeya rot in potatoes, but also the bacteria that can be important from a phytosanitary point of view. An example of this is the occurrence of the quarantaine Xanthomonas arboricola pv. pruni bacterium on laurel.

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Fungi

Japanese rust on potted chrysanthemumILVO researches fungal diseases in major crops in Flanders (potted chrysanthemum, strawberry, boxwood, etc.). We gather knowledge about the pathogen, epidemiology and detection of fungi and plant resistance, as well as validating these research results via a warning system.

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Nematodes

Infected potatoe fieldNematodes (microscopic worms) can cause large economic losses in crops such as potato and sugar beet as well as in open-field cropping systems. ILVO studies the spread of these nematodes and researches appropriate control measures (chemical, biological and integrated pest management, development of resistant varieties, etc.).

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Viruses

PSTVd symptoms on potted tomatoILVO performs exploratory research on current and potential virus and viroid problems in the cultivation of tomato, zucchini, lettuce and potato. We participate in several European networks on viruses, viroids, mycoplasmas and phytoplasmas. In these networks, the researchers compare the accuracy of the various diagnostic methods and the experts discuss new trends, evolutions and threats.

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Control Strategies

Screening disease resistanceVarious control strategies for diseases and plagues are studied at ILVO. Depending on the disease or plague, we focus on chemical or biological control, integrated control, optimal soil management with an emphasis on disease resistance, plant resistance, use of diversity in field borders to reduce the disease pressure, etc.

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Molecular Developments

Judgement of results virus analysesState-of-the-art molecular techniques are used at ILVO to diagnose, identify and study the ecology of plant pathogens. We develop PCR-based detection and marker technologies for use in research as well as in the Diagnostic Centre for Plants (DCP). Microbial communities are profiled in association with plants. ILVO is also involved in European work to barcode quarantine organisms.

More details on the ILVO research portal

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