Latest SCI publications
The good, the bad and the ugly: are beneficial mites threatened in apple orchards due to climate change and pesticides?
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-07-03 - 2026-07-02
The Green Deal of the EU includes two essential objectives: the reduction of pesticide applications and the conservation and restoration of biodiversity. Pesticide reductions are expected to increase the diversity and abundance of natural enemies of pests and consequently also their biocontrol success. However, the vast majority of natural enemies are arthropods, and their diversity strongly declined in the last decades at a global scale. Among other stressors, climate warming is a major driver responsible for the decline of arthropods. In agroecosystems, arthropods are also confronted with a second stressor: agricultural intensification, defined as the increase of agricultural productivity per unit area. Although these two factors are known to be tightly linked, they are usually analyzed separately. However, they may interact additively or synergistically boosting the negative consequences on arthropod diversity in agroecosystems. Apple is the most dominant fruit species in Austria. A serious pest mite, the red spider mite Panonychus ulmi, was efficiently controlled by predatory mites as natural enemies in the past, but regained nowadays the status of a main pest in Styrian apple orchards. Our main hypotheses for this project are: (i) climate warming reduces mite diversity; (ii) synergistic effects between climate warming and agricultural intensification (e.g. pesticide applications) enhance the negative effects on mite diversity; and finally (iii) the natural enemies (i.e. predatory mites) suffer more from the two stressors compared to their prey (i.e. pest mites), which lead to insufficient biocontrol of pest mites. First, we will sample mites in integrated, organic orchards and extensively managed apple meadow orchards (i.e. no pesticide and fertilizer applications) in Styria during two growing seasons, which allow the evaluation of climate warming and agricultural intensification effects on mite diversity. Additionally, mite diversity in extensively managed meadow orchards will be compared between 1985 (historical mite data are available) and 2024/25, to evaluate only climate warming effects on mite diversity. Second, climate warming may indirectly influence mite diversity via promoting agricultural intensification. For example, the use of fungicides in apple orchards increased because of apple scab incidences in the last two decades in Austria, and predatory mites are known to be highly sensitive to fungicides. Thus, micro-climatic data from apple orchards (1961-2025) will be integrated in a dynamic forecast model for apple scab to evaluate, whether climate warming effects could be a potential driver for higher incidences of apple scab indicating synergistic effects between climate warming and agricultural intensification on mite diversity.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-09-01 - 2028-02-29
The overall goal of this innovation action is to improve the competitiveness of European legume crops. This will be achieved by establishing focused innovation partnerships between research- and industry-based players who together will increase the availability of well-adapted and productive cultivars of key legumes species. The partnership framework is designed to be sustained after the project ends with the ability to expand into other species. There are twelve objectives. Six of these relate to cross-cutting (generic) matters that arise from the call topic. Six are focused on the improvement of specific species, or groups of similar species: Soya bean Lupin Pea Common bean Lentil Clovers BOKU engagement in WPs: Soybean (J. Vollmann, R. Hood-Nowotny) Lupin (J. Strauss)
The MoFAB project is submitted within the framework of the R&D infrastructure funding - 3rd call of the FFG: At the University and Research Center Tulln, a Phenomobile (field vehicle for the recording of plant characteristics) is procured, equipped with a customized 3D fusion sensor consisting of laser scanner with spectral, respectively thermal camera, and prepared for field measurements. The fusion sensor will be calibrated and validated using a grapevine pot experiment on networked field scales, handheld sensors, and destructive measurements, and used in drought stress experiments under a mobile greenhouse and in field trials. The fusion data will be used, with algorithms, to develop data pipelines for new crop traits. A combine with integrated phenotyping equipment (weighing system, NIRS) will be procured, and used to reference traits determined with the Phenomobile. A particular focus is the development of absolute and comparable measurements of leaf nitrogen content and stomatal conductance, useful traits for developing feedback loops for digitizing agricultural nitrogen and water management and selection in breeding.