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Risk assessment of fungal biological control agents

Contract number : QLK1-2001-01391
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 3.041.389
EC contribution : € 1.915.857
Starting date : 1/11/2001
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Achim Boenke
Project website : not yet available
Prof. Dr Tariq Butt
University of Wales Swansea
School of Biological Sciences
Singleton Park
SA2 8PP Swansea
United Kingdom
Tel.: +441792295374
Fax: +441792295447
E-mail: T.Butt @

Increasing public sensitivity to environmental pollution and problems of pest resistance to chemical pesticides has led to a global consensus to reduce or phase out extremely noxious pesticides. This has prompted considerable interest in more benign crop protection strategies including the use of fungal biocontrol agents (BCAs). Significant progress has been made in recent years in the development of these agents for the control of pests (insects, nematodes), weeds and diseases of a wide range of forest, horticultural and agricultural crops. However, few products reach the market. More fungal BCAs would be available to growers if production and development costs could be reduced. One major hurdle is the registration and in particular the risk assessment of BCAs, since there are no guidelines or simulation models available to evaluate the fate of secreted fungal metabolites in the environment. Little is known about the range of metabolites produced and whether they enter the food chain so posing a risk to human and animal health. This project will generate data that could help address key registration questions: an alternative where pests have built up resistance to synthetic chemical plant protection products or where these have been withdrawn.


The overall aim of this unique project is to establish whether metabolites produced by fungal BCAs enter the food chain and if they pose a risk to human and animal health. This will be achieved through:

  1. development of sensitive tools (e.g. biosensors) and methods (including high throughput assays like ELISA and the Vitotoxin test) for rapid and accurate detection of fungal metabolites,
  2. biochemical and molecular studies to elucidate their mode of action,
  3. molecular markers to monitor fungal BCAs in the environment
  4. studies to determine if metabolites enter the food chain and, if so, identify the route of entry and type and quantities present.
(expected) Results and achievements
  • Methodologies and tools for sensitive, high throughput screening of fungal BCA metabolites;
  • Molecular probes to monitor fungal BCAs, and biosensors as an alternative to whole animal testing;
  • Methods and data to accelerate risk assessment of fungal metabolites and reduce registration costs;
  • Data that will help end users (policy makers, registration authorities, industry) and the public in making more informed decisions regarding the risks, if any, fungal BCA metabolites pose to human and animal health;
  • Data on the role and mode of action of fungal BCA metabolites.


Institute of Microbiology
Leopold-Franzens University Innsbruck
Technikerstraße 25
6020 Innsbruck
Station de Recherches de Pathologie Comparée
Avenue du General de Gaulle
30380 Saint-Christol Lez Ales
Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche
Istituto Tossine e Micotossine da Parassiti Vegetali
Viale Luigi Einaudi, 51
70125 Bari
Kemira Agro Oy
Espoo Research Centre
Luoteisrinne 2
PO Box 44
02271 Espoo
Koppert Beheer B.V.
r & d Microbials
Veilingweg 17
PO Box 155
2650 AD Berkel en Rodenrijs
The Netherlands
Prophyta Biologischer Pflanzenschutz GmbH
Inselstraße 12
23999 Malchow / Poel
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Dept. Genetics and Biotechnology
Faculty of Biology
Panepistimioupolis, Ilisia
15701 Athens
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich
Plant Science Institute
Universitätsstrasse 2
8092 Zürich
F. Joh. Kwizda GmbH
Division Kwizda Agro
Dr Karl Lueger-Ring 6,
1010 Vienna

Fifth Framework Programme

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