Our main goal is to provide new fundamental knowledge on the transmission mechanisms of plant pathogens by their insect vectors and to develop sustainable management practices to optimise vector control and to interfere with the plant pathogens they transmit.
Plant Protection Department
Currently, crop productivity is substantially reduced by various biotic factors that reduce the quantity and quality of agricultural products, causing severe economic losses worldwide. In addition, the high dependence of modern agricultural systems on the use of chemical pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers is a hazard for the sustainability of these systems.
All these facts support the need to generate and apply basic knowledge on the interactions between beneficial and pest organisms and crop plants. The study of the ecology of pests (weeds, arthropods and pathogens) and the development of new biopesticides based on natural products should lead us to optimized integrated pest management systems focused in minimizing the damage caused by these organisms. On the other side, the study of soil microorganisms (mycorriza, N-fixing bacteria and other ryzobacteria) should lead us to a lower use of N fertilizers and contribute to the restoration of soils degraded, polluted or affected by forest fires.
The research group is focused on the optimization and biotechnological production of botanical and fungal biopesticides. We address the optimization of biopesticides by means of green chemistry processes on characterized extracts of plant and fungal origin already in production (artificial / biotech culture, field cultivation, fermentation) and agricultural waste and / or lead compounds.
The research activity of this group aims to achieve a better understanding of the factors affecting the spatial and temporal development of the major crop pests, using monitoring tools and technologies that allow obtaining and processing geospatial data (proximate and remote sensors, GIS and specific software). The joint application of new technologies and Decision Support Systems allows this information to be transferred to intelligent pest control.
The activity of this group is focused, through an agroecological and multidisciplinary approach, to optimize the integrated management of crop pests and diseases, deepening the study of compatible and incompatible interactions of plants with pests and plant-parasitic organisms (with special interest in the different types of plant resistance and the biotic and abiotic factors that affect them) and contributing to conservation of beneficial insects.