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Open AccessCommunication

Bee Vectoring: Development of the Japanese Orchard Bee as a Targeted Delivery System of Biological Control Agents for Fire Blight Management

1
Fruit Research & Extension Center, Entomology, Pennsylvania State University, Biglerville, PA 17307, USA
2
Department of Entomology, 501 ASI Building, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
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Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, 217 Plant Sciences Building, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
4
Fruit Research & Extension Center, Plant Pathology, Pennsylvania State University, Biglerville, PA 17307, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Pathogens 2020, 9(1), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens9010041
Received: 3 December 2019 / Revised: 31 December 2019 / Accepted: 1 January 2020 / Published: 4 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Pathogens)
Fire blight, which is caused by the bacteria Erwinia amylovora, remains one of the most important diseases limiting the productivity of apple and pear orchards in the United States. In commercial orchards, in-season fire blight management relies exclusively on the use of antibiotic treatments (such as streptomycin and oxytetracycline) and on bacterial biocontrol agents whose efficacy is limited. We hypothesize that the efficacy of the biocontrol agents can be greatly enhanced through targeted delivery to flowers, which serve as initial infection courts, using the Japanese orchard bee, Osmia cornifrons. Many factors, such as the synchrony of life cycle with plant phenology and specificity to pomaceous plants, suggest that O. cornifrons could be an excellent vector of the biocontrol products during bloom in pome tree fruits. However, deployment of this pollinator species to deliver biocontrol agents for fire blight control has not been attempted previously due to the lack of an efficient system to pack the bodies of the bees exiting nesting tubes with the biocontrol products. In this study, we design and test a dispenser system to facilitate the use of O. conifrons as a vector for commercially available biocontrol products for fire blight control. The effectiveness of O. conifrons to deliver biocontrol agents to flowers, and to effect secondary dissemination from treated to untreated flowers is also evaluated in greenhouse experiments. We found that the O. conifrons bees were able to use the nest dispenser designed for the delivery of biological control products, and are effective in vectoring and delivering the Bacillus subtilis-based biological control product (Serenade®) to apple blossoms. We also found that the O. cornifrons were effective in secondary inoculation of this biological control product to newly-opened flowers. These findings suggest the potential use of commercially available O. conifrons and other orchard bees in targeted delivery of biological control products for fire blight, and possibly other diseases, in different fruit crops. View Full-Text
Keywords: fire blight; pollinator; bees; Bacillus subtilis; bee vectoring technology; biological control; apple; Osmia cornifrons; orchard; bacterial disease fire blight; pollinator; bees; Bacillus subtilis; bee vectoring technology; biological control; apple; Osmia cornifrons; orchard; bacterial disease
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MDPI and ACS Style

Joshi, N.K.; Ngugi, H.K.; Biddinger, D.J. Bee Vectoring: Development of the Japanese Orchard Bee as a Targeted Delivery System of Biological Control Agents for Fire Blight Management. Pathogens 2020, 9, 41.

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