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Insects 2016, 7(4), 70; doi:10.3390/insects7040070

Biological Control beneath the Feet: A Review of Crop Protection against Insect Root Herbivores

Functional Ecology Laboratory, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Andrew G. S. Cuthbertson and Eric W. Riddick
Received: 9 October 2016 / Revised: 22 November 2016 / Accepted: 22 November 2016 / Published: 29 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Control of Invertebrate Pests)
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Sustainable agriculture is certainly one of the most important challenges at present, considering both human population demography and evidence showing that crop productivity based on chemical control is plateauing. While the environmental and health threats of conventional agriculture are increasing, ecological research is offering promising solutions for crop protection against herbivore pests. While most research has focused on aboveground systems, several major crop pests are uniquely feeding on roots. We here aim at documenting the current and potential use of several biological control agents, including micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi, and nematodes) and invertebrates included among the macrofauna of soils (arthropods and annelids) that are used against root herbivores. In addition, we discuss the synergistic action of different bio-control agents when co-inoculated in soil and how the induction and priming of plant chemical defense could be synergized with the use of the bio-control agents described above to optimize root pest control. Finally, we highlight the gaps in the research for optimizing a more sustainable management of root pests. View Full-Text
Keywords: biological control; root pests; soil fauna; belowground plant defenses; tri-trophic interactions biological control; root pests; soil fauna; belowground plant defenses; tri-trophic interactions

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kergunteuil, A.; Bakhtiari, M.; Formenti, L.; Xiao, Z.; Defossez, E.; Rasmann, S. Biological Control beneath the Feet: A Review of Crop Protection against Insect Root Herbivores. Insects 2016, 7, 70.

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