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Ongoing project

Australian horticulture pest innovation program (ST23002)

Key research provider: University of Melbourne

What is it all about?

This program is supporting the vegetable industry to transition to a more proactive and sustainable approach to integrated pest management through the latest technology.


At present, pest suppression in the grain and vegetable industries remain heavily reliant on insecticides that are often applied with limited surveillance of pest issues and consideration of beneficial organisms.

This overuse of insecticides can lead to selection for insecticide resistance – an increasing issue for grain and vegetable pests – but also limits adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) due to the suppression of beneficial organisms that support pest control.


The research team will:

  1. Use endosymbiotic bacteria living inside invertebrate cells (already being applied in dengue and malaria mosquito control) to:
    1. Develop drive systems that can be used to drive useful maternally inherited endosymbionts through pest populations
    2. Identify and transfer endosymbionts that suppress plant virus transmission and promote other beneficial phenotypic effects in aphids, moths and other pests
  2. Enhance the impact of beneficials in vegetable and grain crops by:
    1. Increasing the efficacy of mass-reared beneficials through endosymbiont manipulations
    2. Developing predictive frameworks that allow growers to make decisions that appraise the impacts of both insecticides and beneficials 
  3. Use comparative genomics and predictive data-driven forecasting to:
    1. Enhance the predictability of future insecticide resistance threats
    2. Enable rapid diagnosis of resistance in key pests
  4. Develop grower tools and deliver resources to simplify pest management decisions and reduce industry reliance on broad-spectrum insecticides, with the dual aim of prolonging the life of effective agrichemicals.


The Australian grain and vegetable industries transitioning to a more proactive and sustainable approach to IPM through the latest technologies. This will strengthen the vegetable industry’s readiness for existing and emerging opportunities and threats to manage pests in a chemically-limited future.

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