Pest management

Pest management strategies are triggered by qualitative microscopic observations of pests in field samples and/or by bringing a pond sample into the lab and exposing it to conditions that would accelerate pest growth and precipitate a culture crash. If a new or unknown pest is observed, various microbiological techniques (e.g., plaque plating, baiting, selective media) are used to isolate this pest organism. ITS or 16S sequencing is then used to identify the pest organism and to develop qPCR primers to track the genomic DNA of the targeted pest in established ponds. A specific threshold is then set for the CT value of each pest that is being monitored. Once this threshold is reached in any given pond, a crop protection strategy (e.g., pesticide application) is then implemented and the pest’s abundance is consistently monitored to determine whether the control strategy is successful. This iterative process is repeated if the pest management strategy is not successful and/or if a new pest organism is observed.

Biofuels derived from the oils produced by algae may offer a low-cost sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. To achieve this goal, optimization of cost effective strategies for large-scale algae cultivation, such as in open pond systems, is needed. Sapphire Energy has developed an innovative solution to the challenge of contamination of open pond algae cultivation systems, described in Industrial Biotechnology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available on the Industrial Biotechnology website.

In the article “Contamination Management in Low Cost Open Algae Ponds for Biofuels Production,” Robert McBride, PhD and colleagues from Sapphire Energy and University of California, San Diego, present an integrated approach that incorporates pest identification, tracking, and management, and illustrate its use in open pond cultivation with a strain of algae suitable for producing biofuel.

The article is part of the IB IN DEPTH special section “Advances in Algal Bioproducts and Biofuels,” led by Guest Editor Val H. Smith, PhD, University of Kansas, Lawrence. “The breadth and diversity of the ten invited contributions in this special algae-themed issue confirm how important it is to allow a wide range of approaches and applications to develop and to flourish within the algal bioproducts field,” writes Dr. Smith in the Overview: “Progress in Algae as a Feedstock for Bioproducts.” He adds, “Innovative new interdisciplinary research, as well as active collaborations between engineers, chemists, and biologists, will be essential for the development of a versatile and efficient production system.”

“This issue of IB provides a comprehensive look at the opportunities and challenges to deploying algal systems for industrial biotechnology development,” says Co-Editor-in-Chief Larry Walker, PhD, Professor, Biological & Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.