Elicitors possibly make plants more resilient to diseases and pests

Crop protection products combat diseases and pests. However, the number of available crop protection products is decreasing. That is why a different route is needed, for example, activating the immune system of crops. The Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs Business Unit of Wageningen University & Research is investigating whether so-called elicitors ensure better plant resilience in lilies and tulips.

In various horticultural crops, growers try to increase plant resilience. This does not yet happen in bulb cultivation. This is partly because problems in bulb cultivation are different. For example, there are two phases in which lilies and tulips can be attacked by diseases and pests, namely during cultivation and during storage. That is why WUR is investigating whether resilience can be increased in both phases.

This involves a number of different diseases and pests. With lilies, this concerns ‘fire’ (Botrytis elliptica) and, aphids during cultivation, and Penicillium during storage. In the case of tulips, this concerns aphids during cultivation and ‘Zuur’ (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. tulipae) during storage. All these diseases and pests regularly cause problems for growers or traders. For example, an attack by Fusarium or ‘fire’ can cause a high loss of production, and aphids can spread viruses.

WUR is investigating whether increasing plant resilience can ensure less damage to lilies and tulips, for example, because the crop makes itself less attractive by changing the secondary metabolites or creating a thicker wax layer. This could lead to fewer crop protection products being needed for the cultivation of lilies and tulips.

This resilience can perhaps be activated by elicitors (substances that activate the natural defenses of plants). First, WUR investigates the proof of principle in WUR’s laboratory and greenhouses. If the elicitors do indeed work, a practical test will take place.

Source: wur.nl