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FA COST Action 850
Bio-control Symbioses (Symbiotic Complexes for Biological Control of Pests)

The objective of this Action was to develop a better understanding of the interactions taking place in those biocontrol symbioses that may be used against insects and slug pests in biological control in Europe. A network was built drawing together specialists working on insects and molluscs, on endocellular symbionts and on extracellular symbionts. The interests of this diverse interdisciplinary group meet on the mechanisms by means of which symbiotic organisation is maintained on: * how the symbiotic partnership gains fitness * what new molecules may be involved * how symbioses may be exploited for biological pest control, and * how results may be exploited by sustainable agriculture and biotechnology The Action has reached its goals, the initiation of internal and external communication, an increase in the use of biocontrol symbiosis in integrated pest management systems and acceleration of progress in R&D in fundamental and applied science. This Action 850 followed 2 previous Actions 812 and 819 also on Entopathogenic Nematodes (EPN). When Action 812 started, the center for R&D and use of EPN was the United States of America. Today three producers using advanced biotechnology are situated in Europe and provide EPN products for the rest of the world. This is an excellent basis to further accelerate the introduction of EPN and biocontrol symbiosis into biological control. Private enterprises were integrated at an early stage. Several SMEs producing or marketing EPN in biological control have emphasised the benefits they received from the activities of COST 850. R&D helped the SMEs to develop new markets for EPN, to improve production, storage and formulation and particularly to agree on quality control standards. The communication between the companies and academia was greatly enhanced to the benefit of both sides. This COST Action organised the joint opposition of industry, research, extension services and grower organisations regarding the plans of EU SANCO (responsible for registration of plant protection products) to include EPN in the group of micro-organisms, which would have made necessary a costly and time-consuming registration procedure according to Directive 91/414 ECC. As related costs often surpass potential sales in niche markets, the consequence would have been that most EPN products would have disappeared from the market. This COST Action also organised technology transfer meetings. One working group meeting was organised with hazelnut growers in France to plan cooperation for the development of biocontrol of the nut weevil Balaninus nucum. Another was held in Wellesbourne with international participation to introduce using EPN in controlling mushroom pests. This meeting was held in English and Spanish. The major problem on this level of technology transfer to users was the difficulties of the participants understanding the English language.

(Descriptions are provided by the Actions directly via e-COST.)

General Information*

Chair of the Action:

Prof Ralf-Udo EHLERS (DE)

Science officer of the Action:


Administrative officer of the Action:

Mr Christophe PEETERS


Action Fact Sheet

Download AFS as .RTF

Memorandum of Understanding

Download MoU as PDF

Final Report

Download Final Report as PDF


Action website:

* content provided by e-COST.
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Last updated: 02 May 2011 top of page